For anyone that is familiar with Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, habit two suggests “Begin with the End in Mind.” This is particularly pertinent to an effective social media strategy as well as planning a social media event.
Along with my fellow MA Social Media students, one of our current tasks is to put on such an event and build a strategy that promotes it. In both cases the end could refer to the end-user or in simpler terms, the audience. Yet we are already in danger of becoming fixated on a theme for the event without considering who the audience for any given theme could potentially be.
We should first seek to understand the audience we are looking to target, how/if we can reach them and after considering all that, whether they can be persuaded to come along and participate. By starting with this in mind and working backwards, the strategy should at least ensure that we are not setting ourselves up to fail.
To use one of our potential themes as an example…
Current events in Egypt and the role of social media.
The difficulty of a theme like this is that, as an object of study it is extremely broad. For the context of what we need to achieve it needs to be framed within a much more specific focus. For example, is the perspective democratic change, public order or government control (or lack of it), all of which may have a slightly different appeal to a variety of audiences.
And what of those audiences? Who is likely to attend an event on these subjects? For instance, democratic change could be a subject that would interest a broad range of people from political activists to local government personnel but should the event use the Egyptian example to illustrate the point rather than it being the point in itself?
For me there needs to be a consideration of a specific aspect of such a theme linked to a strategy for appealing to a particular (and accessible) audience.
There is, of course, a wider question or indeed a different ‘end’ that we should consider, and that is the academic assessment that will follow. Ultimately this is the goal and one argument is that success or failure of the event is irrelevant providing there is the opportunity for an academic analysis of it.
For this reason I think we need to be a bit more focussed, even ruthless in terms of choosing something specific enough to allow that sharp focus. We should set out to clearly define an audience that is accessible and plan how we can best engage them. Whilst a big global issue would undoubtedly make for an interesting study, does it also lend itself to achieving our academic and professional goals? If we can solve the audience question, agree what the ‘end’ is, only then will we be in a position to answer that.