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A while ago I had the chance to talk about social media ROI at a local event organized by Le Journal des Affaires (in french), a leading publication covering economy, finance and management. As we were approaching the end of the conference, after they’ve been told numerous times to jump right in the lion’s den of Facebook, Twitter and Google+. I took the analogy of a party to demystify and explain some concepts of social media. My intent was to tell them “wait a minute before you trash a party”.

Watch before you trash

Why not learn from real-life situations before jumping on the social media bandwagon? There is a big chance an informal group already exists – either specifically about your brand, or generally about whatever field you are in. The social rules for joining an ongoing party are quite simple:

  • if you don’t know the group of people partying, you go cautiously, watch & learn;
  • you don’t enter the party trying to bring all the attention upon yourself;
  • in conversations, you care about what others have to say, you don’t brag about yourself all the time;
  • genuinely care about others, and remember, the worse thing to do is start a fight!
  • adapt your style to the party, is it classy suits and fancy cocktails or beer on the beach?

A party at home?

It’s best to see how others are planning their party before doing one on your own… That is, join an existing social media group, learn the ins & outs before you start your own community. The analysis step is critical before venturing in social media – at the risk of losing control and ending up with a destroyed living room – and reputation.

  • identify the needs and expectations of attendees based on their behavior at previous parties;
  • set objectives: party size, who to invite (or not!), type of services, networking and/or reputation building opportunities, etc;
  • define the values you care about to set the tone and limits of what is acceptable.

We will also want to know:

  • are there ongoing conversations outside of the formal party?
  • if so, what is the importance of those (volume) and are they frequent and recent?
  • what is the tone of those conversations (sentiment analysis)?
  • are the topics always closely related or going all over the place? (focus)

Once we’ve looked at all of this, we can set up our partying strategy. Should we really make our own or join another event – build a brand new Facebook page or join an existing group? Should we go all over the place and join every party – every social network platform? Maybe instead of putting all of your energy on social media, on a big party, you should improve your existing website or blog and add some features like voting, comments, voice of customer – make it a better place for everyone to visit more often?

Who should handle your party?

If you want to be the organizer, you need to make sure you have the time to plan, but also be a good host and entertain your guests. You can always hire a consultant to help out, but will this person know and care as much as you do about your guests? Getting advice and help from professionals is important, but no one else can fake your genuine and unique personality.

Your take

When you think of organizing a party, does it fit your social media strategy? What are the other tricks we could learn from this analogy?