As you know, at iGo2 we believe it all starts with assessing the landscape, formulating a policy, building the strategy and then implementing responsibly – in that order [for your business, your competitors, your partners and staff]

So what do we mean? Effectively, developing a strategy for Social Media in your business without understanding the Social Media landscape is attune to planning a trip without knowing the destination.

Most companies get that Social Media can influence brand and that understanding brand perception is important, but how many companies take the time to understand their competitors, partners and customer as reflected out in the Social Media landscape?

At iGo2 we study 4 quadrants when assessing landscape i.e. brand, customers, partners and competitors. It is important to understand who is saying what, what perceptions are out there, and more importantly who is listening to them. Wouldn’t you like to know who your customers are listening to? it might be a competitor!

So when assessing a company’s Social Media landscape, do it comprehensively, across the quadrants and with the view to developing or improving your Social Media strategy. Not just your brand!

Michael Brito’s (a great Social Media Commentator) recent post A Smart Business is a Social Business via Social Media Blog by Michael Brito 15/12/10, he speaks of the difference between a social brand and a social business. Many of the top end of town are becoming social brands, but they are not social businesses. That’s’ where businesses should be aiming.

But there is a catch, assessments bring huge volumes of data to the desktop, but you need to make sure it’s relevant. Most companies have an idea who their detractors and supporters are to some degree, but never before is it this open and clear for all to see. It is slightly disconcerting to see someone openly and constantly attacking your company, product, service, but even more so if it is somebody of influence. It will be even worse if we find out that our best customer follows and is listening to this person? But do we care?

Assessments are therefore about relevance – we need to sift through all the data, exclude the unnatural and analyse the rest. Yes do the work and analyse the results! We need to take the time to analyse the data to make sure that the information is applicable and relevant. Pretty basic, but nevertheless important. And only then, develop a strategy to implement Social Media, and continue to monitor the results across our organisation – not just look at your social brand, which is a common mistake made in companies today.

More on strategy in my next post.