John Tropea's post on Social media goals are derived goals got me thinking. John declares that . . .

Your company does not need a social media strategy

 . . . but it goes on to say,

Maybe you do need someone to coordinate your company wide social media efforts, but that is not the same as creating a social media strategy.

The use of social media tools will probably help your business achieve its goals but how to approach the whole concept of making the business more social?

You have to understand the tools, what they are capable of doing (good and bad) and decide how they sit in the business and how they will help your business achieve its goals.

For example, why would you have a Facebook fan page, would a Linkedin group be worth settting up, why use social bookmarking, is Youtube the way forward? You also need to understand how these tools fit together.

There is little value in setting anything up until you understand how it will help your business achieve its goals. That's not to say you shouldn't experiment – you should but you have to be experimenting in the right direction.

Then you need to train up people to use the tools, understand appropriate behaviours expected of them as representatives of your organisation, look at branding, measurement of success etc.

Clearly some of your people will be better suited to using these tools than others so there will be a process of finding out who is good and enabling them to share their knowlege and skills as they develop.

These tools are ideal for sharing so use them to share the learning – people will find out new things, tricks etc.

Before you do anything, think about how social media tools will help the business achieve its goals. Unless you have a senior management team that is active in social media and that understands the business benefits you are probably going to have to win them over.

At this point, they will probably want to see a strategy document!

One final point, these tools are all about two-way communication eg sharing things, conversation. That means you need to create space for this to happen (internally and externally) – and be open to surprises and open to learning new things and harnessing them. Doing this properly takes time, so factor it in.