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Looking Back on my first social media program: Part II

I am currently a student at The Maxwell School at Syracuse University working towards my Masters in Public Administration. I use this blog to write about my experiences at Maxwell, especially related to social media use in the public sector. You can follow me on Twitter: @pjfiorenza and please feel free to leave some comments! http://pjfiorenza.wordpress.com/

Program Section: Using Social Media and Purpose

One of the first challenges that I faced implementing the social media program at Habitat for Humanity was trying to place social media into the organizations goals and mission. After doing some research on the web, I began to see all the potential benefits of using social media for an organization. My personal opinion on social media is that it is a great way to empower your respective constituency. Regardless of what sector you are in, these tools are great for engaging. Likewise, what became immediately clear is that social media programs need to be targeted, mission driven with clearly stated objectives.

I also found that social media is not an immediate solution for all organizations. Organizations should not be using social media on a whim or because everyone else is using social media. From my experience and through various conversations, numerous organizations feel obligated to be on social networks, but unsure why.

In these cases, I would recommend the organization take a step back, learn about the tools and then learn how the tools can help goals and missions that are likely already stated. I mention this in nearly every blog post because and I cannot stress the importance – social media lets you review current business practices. Social media is a quick check on your goals and mission! I looked at my program as a quick strategic planning session. If you can get this process down, you will certainly have success in your program.

So there is your big challenge, understand the tools and then be able to take the tools and fit them into a larger organizational context.

Program Section: Using Analytics

I am by no means an expert in analytics. I still have a lot of learning to do in this field. I set up Google Analytics for Syracuse Habitat. What I found useful about analytics was being able to monitor what posts generated the most hits and then use that data to develop content. What is deceptive about analytics is to understand what the data is actually telling you. For me, seeing that we had 1,000 web hits in a month was somewhat useless. My only comparison was to previous months. I just tried to make sure that the hits improved or stayed the same. Again, analytics are great, but if you have not set goals back to your mission, you’ll get lost in the data. This is one area that I will probably touch on quite a bit in my research next semester, and I am really looking forward to learning more.

The program was also unique because Habitat was not really seeking to sell a service or raise donations. I was trying to build an audience online first, and then move towards donations. It was a conscious choice on my part; I still think it was the right move. We needed to develop a voice before we asked for any monetary donation. If we were seeking a donation, I would have developed a landing page and used the analytics to help generate traffic to the page. This would have to be very targeted, and different from the more general goals we had in place.

Next up is my favorite part of social media, content generation.

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