15 Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE Launching Your Social Program

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There are thousands of articles, blog posts, ebooks, videos, white papers, presentations, and webinars available that you can and should research to develop your social strategy and build a social program. The sheer volume of information and conflicting opinions and advice can be overwhelming and confusing. A few of my favorite sources (in no particular order) include: MarketingProfs, Social Media Examiner, Jeff Bullas, Paul Gillin, and socialmediatoday.
Once you've done your research and built your program plan, I've distilled what I've learned into a checklist of 15 multi-level questions for you to answer to help you decide if you're launch ready.
  1. What do you want to accomplish, that is, what does social success look like for your brand? 
  2. How does your social program support your company's business objectives? 
  3. How will you measure success? 
  4. Do you have a digital strategy? What is it, and how will your social presence complement it and support it? 
  5. Who is your audience? What content is going to be valuable to them? 
  6. Which social media channels are your audience using? Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Google+? SlideShare? What about Pinterest or Instagram? Tumblr? Snapchat? 
  7. Which social media channels are your competitors using? 
  8. Which are the top two or three channels your audience and competitors are using that you can focus on first? 
  9. How are you going to follow who your customers and competitors are following, and listen to the conversations taking place? 
  10. Are you going to create a blog and/or can you host your content on your website? Do you have the content and sufficient content creators to support a blog and keep it fresh? Or does it make more sense to focus on placing your content on other's platforms? 
  11. Do you have the bandwidth / resources to support a social networking program? 
  12. Do you understand the risks of using social media, and do you have a crisis plan for dealing with unhappy customers, trolls, or bad press? 
  13. Are there other brands or divisions within your company who already have their social channels set up? Can you piggyback onto their efforts and success? 
  14. Does your plan include increasing the amplification and reach of your social program by encouraging your SMEs (subject matter experts) to build their own social eminence and actively participate?
  15.  Are you ready to no longer just push content out to your ecosystem — clients, prospects, partners, press, bloggers — but actually build relationships with them? 
Until you can fully answer these 15 questions — don't launch. Don't jump on the bandwagon just because everyone else is riding it. Make sure your social strategy is well thought out and robust. However, with that said, social is no longer an option, but a business requirement, so don't delay too long.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Did I miss something? Did you launch your social program before you answered these questions? What would you have done differently, and what went well?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net