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Are you Ready for Social Media?

I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog. Perhaps it’s genetic. Heck, my father’s favorite movie is “Rudy.” Perhaps it’s because I’m an optimist: I look for the best in people, and see the potential in the businesses I’ve worked for and interacted with. And though I’m always tempted to rescue the underdog, it’s not fair to potential clients.

To be clear, in this context I use the term underdog to refer to a business that has a great product or service, but struggles marketing it. Social media marketing is a logical starting point. Being a fan, I think everyone should be on social media, but that’s not enough. In order for your social media efforts to have a chance at success, you have to first decide if you’re ready.

Underdog BoyI recently picked up a copy of Chris Barger’s recent book “The Social Media Strategist.” In it Mr. Barger, SVP of Global Programs at Voce Connect, offers valuable insight about how a social media “consultant” can assess if client is ready for online marketing. Especially considering some of my clients don’t have a large marketing budget, the rescuer in me appreciated being reined in — forcing me to go through these points with my clients.

Are you ready to use social media to market your products or services? Here are some questions Mr. Barger says I should be asking you.

1. Are you clear about “who owns social” within your company?

Is each employee experimenting with the different social platforms on their own as they become popular? Does each department have their own twitter account? This can be very confusing for the audience, and equally tough for the person spearheading your social media efforts.

2. Do you understand that social media is about interaction?

Social media is more than the ad campaign, the message and the brand. Social media is also about building a community, engaging with your audience, and taking feedback. Your social media audience will tune you out very quickly if you don’t implement this balance. You also have to accept that your social media manager needs to spend time engaging.

3. Are you willing to give the social media manager a seat at the leadership table?

Social media can’t happen in a vacuum. The social media manager needs to be a part of the strategy sessions in order to tailor the social media marketing efforts accordingly. It’s almost impossible for them to engage in a conversation if they don’t know what you want them to say, or what’s happening in your organization.

4. Do you have the monetary resources for social media?

I’ve said it before: yes, social media is cost-effective, but that doesn’t mean free. It takes time, among other resources. If a social media manager knows what they have to work with they can be that much more effective.

It’s okay if you’re not ready for social media marketing right now, but once you’re clear on the above points, you should strongly consider it. With the right strategies, the underdog can make great strides in social media marketing.