The Two Most Powerful Words in Strategic Communications?

(Other than “Payment Received” ;) )

Many, many moons ago, when I was svelter around the waist and with less gray in my beard, I wanted to be an EMT. (emergency medical technician… you know, a dude in an ambulance) My interest developed after taking a first responder class in college, and I wanted to carry on my studies, possibly even working my way through school as an EMT.

(Thankfully, I passed the class but didn’t go on with becoming an EMT. It was fascinating and fun, but not for me.)

One of the first, and most important lessons I learned as an EMT were that the two most important words to an EMT were “It Depends.”

As my instructors drilled into my brain repeatedly throughout class, it was difficult understanding with certainty what was happening to a patient, because symptoms for a problem (i.e. a stroke) could manifest one way in one person, and a slightly different way in another person. Just enough to leave you wondering for sure what the problem was.

(There you go, you’ve just spared yourself 6 months of EMT classwork. You’re welcome. ;-) )

So what does this have to do with business, communications and social media?

I’m glad you asked.

Businesses, like people, are multifaceted. Large or small, Fortune 100 or Mom-and-Pop shops, they are all different entities mostly looking for the same goal – profit. Some consultants want to tell you that all businesses should act like the small, family-owned business, listening attentively to each customer. While that works for the small business, it’s harder to change the culture ingrained into larger companies into acting like a small business.

That doesn’t mean that larger businesses shouldn’t engage in social media. Hell, many large companies have great social programs. It does mean that each company has a different way to achieve social media nirvana, locating what works for them. It means that cookie cutter social media programs won’t necessarily work. You don’t just add water, mix and cook at 400 degrees for a successful program or strategy.

Each company, large or small, single people (athletes and celebrities?) or Japanese Zaibatsu conglomerates, needs to sit down and assess their communications and interaction goals, work on a pre-program audit – looking at their needs, the audiences they want to reach, how best to interact with those audiences. Developing lists of Twitter handles to engage with that make sense (why would a college need to interact with a 30-something professional, non-alumni with no kids? Is there a reason? There might be. What would it be? NOTE: I work at a university, and this is just an example that popped in my head and is not indicative of anything in that university’s strategy)

In short, you need to do your research. Do your homework! Conduct your communications, social media and other audits, ask questions. Make sure any social media company you work with knows how to do this, ask for definable and measurable goals.

Will the same social media strategy that works so well for Dell work for you? Remember…

“It Depends”

  • wreichard

    Reblogged this on Technoagita and commented:
    Great reminder to beware cookie-cutter solutions.

  • AshDHart

    Spot on Benson! Sharing this.

  • kajehart

    Very true–the needs assessment is not only necessary for a Social Media (pre-) (re-) evaluation, it’s also the starting point for an SEO (many now call it Internet Marketing) evaluation.

  • http://twitter.com/crazykids6 Sharon Moms Madhouse (@crazykids6)

    Hi from me and your friend AshDHart

  • http://www.laing.net.au/tomlaing/ Tom Laing

    Hi B-Man! AshDHart sent me your way.

  • http://michaelcudahy.wordpress.com michaelcudahy

    Totally agree. And AshDHart and I wanted to say – well done!

  • http://www.whatwendiwants.com Wendi B ~ What Wendi Wants

    Love your thoughts. AshDHart pointed me in your direction – so glad. :)

  • John anslow

    Measurables and social media are very nearly diametrically opposed, marketing (colouring in) departments have jumped wholesale onto the bandwagon with as usual no thought in their heads other than “shiny”

  • http://lastbabyboomer.wordpress.com lastbabyboomer

    There is Power in the Clarity of your Articulation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DwayneLThompson Dwayne L Thompson

    Great article I trained as an EMT like you I didn’t take the job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/todd.waller Todd Waller

    Hi B-Man! AshDHart sent me your way.

  • http://orionwills.wordpress.com orionwills

    Well-said.