I find that many executives and organisations have a pre meditated approach to using Social Media in their business. They make a decision to set up a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn Company profile and perhaps a couple of video’s on YouTube. And then complain when this approach generates little in the way of conversations or ‘buzz’.

Or the conversation I had recently with an executive who said that ‘C’ level types are not on Facebook or Twitter in any meaningful way and therefore these social networks add nothing to his business. If he wants to get meetings with C levels then he utilises his LinkedIn network or address book. Which might be fine for some but if your target customers are people working as individuals in service industries who send money back to their home country then you are very unlikely to find them in LinkedIn.

Both of these are examples of what I call the ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ syndrome. Deciding you want to do something and how you are going to do it without much thought for a few key questions:

1. Where are we now? What is the organisation doing in the social web, what kind of presence of do we have today?

2. Where do we want to be? This is about setting goals for your social media initiatives. What is it that the organisation wants to achieve through a social media initiative.

3. Where are are my customers or future customers? Where do your customers hang out in the social web? As per the examples above – if they hang out in Facebook and you only target LinkedIn then the initiative is doomed for failure. And don’t make assumptions about the ‘big four’ networks – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. There are literally thousands of other places they might hangout – blogs, communities, bulletin boards etc.

4. What are those customers talking about where they hang out? What are the issues that they are discussing? Do these provide an opportunity for me to engage them? How will I engage them?

If you know where you are and you know where you want to be then you can decide the best way to get there. And if the journey takes a little detour along the way you can always adjust the ‘aim’ along the way.

But if you don’t take the time to understand where you are and where you want to be then its just as likely that your ‘shot’ will be in the entirely wrong direction. And that would not be good for our target bearer in the visual above.

Ready, Fire, Aim.

Will B.