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Viewpoint: 47 Tough Social Media Questions

by Randall Craig on March 22, 2011

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management, Social Media, Viewpoint

Tagged as: , , ,

How does your organization decide to invest in Social Media? With all of the fluff being written on the topic, it isn’t surprising that finding a list to help executives make better decisions is tough.  Based on our experience advising clients, here is my contribution, with questions in no particular order:

1.      What are the competitors doing?

2.      What evidence do you have that the competitors are actually successful?

3.      Have they already taken advantage of a first mover advantage?

4.      How have they organized the implementation – internal/external mix?

5.      Who has organized the implementation – consulting firm, ad agency, third world workers, etc. – and why this way?

6.      What profile has their executive team chosen to have?

7.      How has their strategy leveraged their unique advantages?

8.      How will the proposed Social Media plan take advantage of our unique advantage?  How?

9.      How might the competition respond?

10.  What are the technical risks, and how might they be mitigated?

11.  How do we know we’re not too late?

12.  Over 500+ Social Media sites; justify why you’ve chosen the ones you have

13.  What statistics/proof do we have that our prospects/customers/recruits actually are on the sites you propose to be on?

14.  The plan assumes that different groups will work together in a new way for the first time – how will this work “on the ground”?

15.  Who is accountable for the success of the initiative?

16.  How will that success be measured?

17.  Has anyone – a competitor, consulting firm, or academia – done a study to compare or establish benchmarks or best practices?

18.  How long have you personally used Social Media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube)?

19.  What is the investment required? Payback? ROI? (Initial and ongoing)

20.  If the investment were increased/decreased by 50% what would change in your proposal?

21.  Who specifically came up with the plan – a 20 year old?

22.  Most organizations do PR centrally – yet the blog/twitter is decentralized – how will we control “the message”?

23.  What are the top 5 risks and how do you propose to address them?

24.  What are our clients doing?

25.  Explain the rationale for building the program on third party sites versus our own (or the other way around).

26.  How will this plan address privacy issues?

27.  What additional law or government regulation must be followed (privacy, Do Not Call, under 18 laws, etc)?

28.  How will spam be addressed?

29.  How much of a person-resource will be spent on this?

30.  Is the plan integrated with our Marketing/Sales/HR/R&D/etc, or is it tack-on?  How is it integrated?

31.  Does the plan have clear objectives?

32.  We have finite resources; what activity will be stopped if this one starts?

33.  How much of the initiative is defensive (vs. aggressive/offensive)?

34.  Can the proposal be phased in?

35.  When do the milestones occur to review progress?  And what should we look for on the first milestone.

36.  Does the Social Media strategy take advantage of Mobile? How so?

37.  Who else has reviewed this proposal, and what reservations did they have?

38.  How does this initiative change our…

– Marketing strategy?

– R&D strategy?

– HR/recruiting strategy?

– etc.?

39.  What internal policies will need to change if we implement? (Acceptable Use Policies, Confidentiality, etc)

40.  Where does this plan lead? What does Phase Three look like?

41.  Who within the organization will you need to work hard to get buy-in from?

42.  Are there any external stakeholders who will be affected negatively or whose relationships will be altered in one way or another?

43.  Who are the bloggers, tweeple, etc. who are most influential in our market?

44.  How will the initiative be launched?

45.  What books have you read/What blogs/Tweeple do you follow? What do they say about this type of plan?

46.  How has this plan worked in other industries?

47.  Do any of our suppliers or customers have Social Media strategies that we can “camp on” to?

It’s unlikely that you’ll use all 47 every time there is a question of investment, but scanning through the list isn’t a bad idea.  Sometimes the best answers come when you ask the best questions.

This week’s action plan: Before asking for anything this week, put your feet in the shoes of the person you are asking.  What would their top five questions be?  Answer clearly, and it’s more likely you’ll get a yes.

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Randall Craig

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Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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