One of the greatest challenges in social media is working out what platforms and channels you should use. Ultimately, each new channel (whether it’s on a new network, or a second Facebook page) should be carefully evaluated before you start it.
The primary criteria you should consider are summarized below, and then we’ll expand on each briefly. Consider each of these factors for each proposed new community.
Who is the target audience?
Defining who the audience of this new community is an important step toward working out whether it’s a good idea. Are you looking to talk to community members who already visit your facilities? Prospective staff members or clinicians? Younger people? Donors? Define your target audience as well as you can, and try to avoid the ‘generic audience’ trap: communities are rarely for ‘everyone living in the area’.
What value will you provide through the community?
All good communities provide some kind of value to the user. Whether it’s information about where their donations go, heartwarming stories about patient experiences, or even an opportunity to provide input into decisionmaking; define this value. This builds the foundations for the content you’ll be sharing as well.
What makes it different to other social media presences that you have?
Based on your answers to the first two questions, have a look at your other social media communities. How similar is the target audience and/or value you’re providing to an existing community? If they’re similar, perhaps there’s an opportunity to use that platform instead, rather than risk diluting the attention of users. It’s really useful here (and generally) to have a spreadsheet with all your social media channels to refer to!
What’s the time plan?
Is this community planned to be around for the long run? Or is it just a very brief campaign? If it’s a campaign or shorter planned content ‘push’, go back to the previous question – should you be delivering the content through an existing channel? Remember that unique communities take time and investment (in resources, and potentially cash) to become effective, so don’t assume you’ll generate one overnight.
Do users want this new community?
The ‘barbeque test’ is necessary here. Talk to a few people who would be members of the community you’re creating. Would they join? Why or why not? Would they like the ‘value’ you’re proposing? This kind of market research can range from being very formal (with an online survey etc) or very informal (asking 5-10 people for their thoughts), but is absolutely necessary to build something effective.
Editor's Note: The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media has developed criteria to apply when we receive requests to create specialized Mayo-branded Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc. These are for groups within Mayo Clinic interested in having their own presence on social platforms, as opposed to the institution-wide Facebook and Twitter accounts. See our Criteria for Mayo-Branded Social Sites on the Resources page. If you have a similar document, we would love to be able to share it as an example as well.
Write down your answers to the five questions about a community you’re thinking of starting. If you don’t have an answer to number 5, quickly ask a few people their thoughts to include.Posted by Hugh Stephens