I believe a successful online network strategy depends of four essential steps:
Audience: You will need to define your audience(s) and their respective level of social media participation. In other words, you not only must identify your key audiences, you must also determine where they “hang out” on social media. Only then will you be able to employ the proper social media resources to reach your key audience(s) and get them engaged.
Content: Providing relevant and current content is perhaps the biggest challenge to any successful professional network online. Trying to be the sole generator of content and assume that your audience will only receive or consume your content is a stillborn concept when it comes to social media. Displaying user generated content (UGC) is the key to any successful social media network because it allows you to have a steady stream of current content.
Environment: If we accept the premise that every social media network sites’ primary function is to host UGC, then the challenge is to draw users who want to create content and post on your site. This is easier said than done because offering the same kind of content opportunities as other sites is useless. In fact, there are already too many sites that have been set up in the hopes that people will simply join on their own. Most fail and are soon taken down. A successful network must create an environment where people want to join and share great ideas.
Integration: Finally, any successful social media network must keep pace with the ever changing nature of social media apps. One way to do this is to integrate several social media tools into your network. In other words, do not rely solely on a few videos or one RSS feed, etc. The key is to integrate as many of these social media tools as possible into your social media network because the overall reach will exceed the sum of their respective reach and will still be able to function if one app is changed or replaced.
These are the four major steps that need to be developed and refined over the next 6 – 12 months. By the end, if these steps are followed, we should have a strong organic engagement and a strong professional network now and in the future.