Hawaii Social Media Trends 2011 – SMCHI, Jan 18

Malia Yoshioka of WhyGoHawaii and Randi Okuhara of the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel Those smiling faces are Malia Yoshioka of WhyGoHawaii and Randi Okuhara of the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel

Social media planning is like any other business practice: the questions you ask will enable the optimal strategic considerations. This is a distinctly different modus operandi than follow the herd or panic jumping. There is no “one size fits all” solution, however by examining the possibilities, combined with your own market knowledge and company culture, you can put things into focus. Below are the results of our inquiry into the topic at the January meeting of Social Media Club Hawaii. Be sure to check out the #SMCHI tweet stream, nicely fed by Tara Coomans who posted several useful links for further exploration.

Mobile Interactivity and Smart Phone Apps
Which ones do you use and why? Start playing with apps from the viewpoint of a developer and a customer. What do you find easy or confusing? What problems are you wanting to solve? How do other apps solve problems for you? Become a systems analyst to trigger your own brain cells to think in this new direction.

Which ones do your customers use? It’s a decent question to ask, either formally via a survey or informally in conversation one at a time. This info tells you about how they use their mobile devices and the type of interactivity they have already sought out.

How are you managing mobile communication and customer support? Have you upgraded your phone recently? Does your company support smart phone usage? IMO it is really hard to think about developing apps if you and your team don’t use smart phones already and spend at least some water cooler time comparing notes and tracking customer interactions via mobile. If you are in retail or consumer products and services, how many people are checking in to your business with location-based services? Are you responding when they do?

Do you search for your competitors’ apps in the App store? It’s one more line item of market research that will inform the cost-benefit analysis of developing your own app.

How do you market your app once it is developed? Just like in the early days of building a web site and forgetting to add the address to everyone’s business cards, it’s important to use as many communication channels as possible to help people discover your app.

Here are some of the questions we posed to the developers, providing some of the technical considerations to keep in mind for your own potential app development:
* How much should a company budget in terms of time and cash to get an app?
* What types of functionality are easy versus hard/expensive to program?
* How important is it to be in the iTunes Music Store vs offering a web app? 
* What stats are available on app usage?

The Intersection of IT, HR, and Marketing
Most social media begins in the Marketing Department, and more often than not without any particular mandates or blessings from the C suite. Now HR is discovering there are advantages for recruiting in addition to the policy considerations.

IT, it might be said, now has some fun stuff to support in terms of unblocking access to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and adding blogs to the company’s IT assets. They are learning how to join and support social conversations instead of repeating the mantra, “No, you can’t do that here.”

We talked about how the US Navy provides separate and unequal internet connections to segregate secure communication from social communication. They value them both though understand better than any of us perhaps the security considerations.

These are the strategic questions just about every organization should now be considering:
* How is your organization cooperating among these historically divided departments? Who gets to be in charge, overall?
* What policies are really needed and how do you decide?
* What are your organization’s smart phone policies?

Local firm Simplicity HR prepared a free white paper on Social Media and the Workplace which references a post I wrote last year sharing one framework you can use as a basis for HR policy development.