Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Social Media Strategy that works!

If you are on the net these days its pretty hard not to be aware of Social Media and if you are involved in Social Media beyond being a typical Facebook user you are bound to have seen at least a dozen articles on how to create a Social Media Strategy by a self proclaimed “Social Media Expert”.  Recently I read a series of posts by a project manager who has left the world of big corporations behind in order to hang out his shingle as an indie project manager.  While trying to get traction for his fledgling company, Papercut Project Monitoring, Geoff Crane experimented with Social Media and came up with a strategy that has worked well.  You can read the four part blog post as well as other lessons Geoff has learned at his blog
Geoff has a rather unique philosophy, he tries to provide basic project management advice, as well as some great tools he has developed during his years of project management experience for FREE.  Of course if you want to get his help on a specific project Geoff is more than willing to charge you for that help.  His goal is too help you get your project done while avoiding some of the administrative the drudgery that comes with any project.  To paraphrase Geoff on his web site,  - We do the dull stuff so you can keep your hands dirty.
I’d really suggest you read Geoff’s experiences but to summarize, what Geoff did was;
  1. Get educated on Social Media
  2. Make an educated decision about what platform(s) to use.  You are a precious resource don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to be everywhere.  Geoff’s initial focus was on using Twitter to build his presence.
  3. Build an audience by drawing attention to interesting/quality things posted by others and mixing in a smattering of your own material.  If you can act as a filter, passing on only quality material, those whose posts you re-tweet/link to will see you as someone worth following and when they start to re-tweet/link to you so will their followers.  This helps you build a readership base quickly, Robert Scoble has built a huge readership by doing just this in the tech sector.
  4. Start blogging, tweeting is fine for getting people’s attention but you can’t really deliver detail about yourself, your product, your company, in 140 characters.  Start out with a blog that is easily maintained, your focus should be on creating quality content not managing a website.  You can always migrate to a more complicated blog later.  This is a good reason to use your own domain rather than the generic URL assigned by default when using Blogger or other platforms, you can change platforms but your users will still find you because your URL didn’t change.
  5. Participate in the conversation on other web sites or forums.  Ask and answer question, leave comments on other people’s posts, and I ‘m not talking about things like “I agree”, add some relevant facts or substantiate or refute someone else’s argument using facts rather than just stating an opinion.  By sharing your experience you will be seen as someone who is knowledgeable on specific subjects and you will open opportunities for business engagements
The above may not be that different from what the social media experts are touting, but what Geoff blogs about with regard to this carries a lot more weight with me.  Geoff’s approach isn’t to tell you, “this is what you should do”, Geoff says this is what I did and it seems to be working, in effect he is holding his experience out as a case study.  If you explore the Papercut Project Monitoring site you will see that this is Geoff’s approach,as I mentioned above he makes a number of tool’s available for free because he realizes that its not the tools that make a project successful, its the people and the experience they bring, although in experienced hands tools make a project run a lot smoother.            
Full Disclosure:
I have known Geoff for about 14 years although we were out of touch for much of that time. Geoff is probably one of the most outgoing person I know.  He has a HUGE zest for life and his enthusiasm for the projects he is involved in is contagious.  Having Geoff involved in my projects made my life a lot smoother (not to mention a hell of a lot of fun!).
music note While writing this, I was listening to "CBC Jazz"in iTunes Radio