From Birth to Beyond: Raising a Social Media Program

Three generations

This is a post from PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

At a recent social media seminar I attended the moderator closed the session by asking the panelists what stage their social media programs are in. For answers, he gave the following options: infancy, adolescence and adulthood. The choices suggested that social media programs are meant to grow and evolve.

For instance, if your social media program is in its infancy, this could mean that you’ve begun building it and are working to attract followers and “likes.”  You may have built a Facebook page, developed a blog, started a YouTube channel, used Slideshare to share presentations, claimed a Twitter ID name or started a group on LinkedIn and started curating your followers. If you’ve done this and are wondering “what’s next?” Lee Odden offers some food for thought in his blog post “Five Ways to Electrify Your Social Network.”

The adolescent social media program is one that isn’t afraid to experiment and take risks, probably because it has developed a sense of what it takes to keep an audience engaged, established savvy listening techniques and makes use of advanced measuring tools. Sometimes this is also the stage where social media experiments are abandoned.

Adult social media programs have the wisdom and experience gained from a period of experimenting and can look at the program in terms of its business value to the organization. Social media programs in adulthood are mature enough to understand that trying too hard to shape social media doesn’t work; it’s most important to be authentic. Organizations experienced with social media also use it at multiple points in the organization to enhance sales, HR, customer service and other functions beyond marketing.

Valerie Maltoni, who blogs at ConversationAgent, wrote awhile ago about the lifecycle of a social media program and described the types of actions that resulted in higher and lower levels of buzz and engagement. Maltoni’s post is interesting because it infers that the effort you put into your social media program is not constant and ongoing but rather waxes and wanes over time.

Hmm…I wonder what retirement will look like?

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on You can find her at Learn more about Alison Kenney.

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