I've been promising for some time (well, a few days!) to talk a little about the POST methodology suggested in the Groundswell book, and explained by Jeremiah Owyang at a recent event in Tokyo.
While it sounds simple, this approach is actually counter-intuitive for most marketers who've become aware of social media because it enforces a very productive discipline. Too many people get hyped on the technology piece, which is a sure sign of an OK-decoder-ring approach. If you hear a discussion start from technology, search frantically for the garlic and holy water.
P = People, who after all are what makes the thing "social". The key message here is to understand who you're talking to (rather than "at") - and while most of the discussion in the 'sphere is around technographics, it is vital that you also add the traditional weapons of demographics and psychographics to make sure you really capture the essence of your customer.
O = Objective, or what you are trying to achieve in the social media. I posted before on the powerful metaphors that Groundswell suggests. Marketing 101 - determine what you are trying to do before you start doing it! But unless your objective is fundamentally 2-way and involves a human relationship, then this would be a good place to stop.
S = Strategy, or figuring out what will be different once you're finished. If that sounds like putting the cart before the horse, think again. It's about imaging about what success might look like - say, people are talking positively about Company X - and then figuring out how to get there.
T = Technology, or deciding which social media tool best suits the people, objectives, and strategy you've decided to pursue. Putting this step last makes sure you don't get all screwed up with the latest shiny toy before you commit all that money. I'll post again soon about which tools suit which executions.
I'm not going to say it's easy to follow this discipline - Heaven knows I'm the first person to be swayed by cool! But if you imagine you're spending your own money rather than someone else's, a structured and logical approach will probably mean you're not going to stumble.
Thought for the Day: If you find yourself rushing head-over-heels pursuing the latest technology, try the POST methodology to bring some method back to your madness.