The Social Media Toolkit: a practical guide to social media for small businesses

itswhattheuserdoesIt seems to me that everyone is trying to figure out the role of social media for their organization, whatever size it is.

As more people become become more clued-up about the potential of what social media tools and channels can enable them them do – as well as not do – so the need for better understanding of relevant potential is quite clear.

To me, this view is summed up simply and clearly in this cartoon by Hugh MacLeod from 2007: as the text says, it’s not what the software does, it’s what the user does.

That’s a foundational principle behind The Social Media Toolkit, a free guide to social media seen through the lens of small and medium business, formally launched today by Dell. It’s a product I’m especially pleased with as I’ve been involved in its creation, working on it with Kerry Bridge at Dell for the past few months.

Kerry and I offered a glimpse of the toolkit content in our joint presentation at Social Media Week London in February. Well, now you get to see the whole thing.

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The toolkit comes in two guises:

  1. The Social Media Toolkit website – content presented in a modular format, with easy-to-find sections linked throughout the site. It enables opportunities for including new and updated content over time, and offers a place on the social web integrated within Dell’s overall web presence that’s linkable and shareable.
  2. The Social Media Toolkit PDF – a document of 100+ pages that contains all the content of the website at launch, offering you an opportunity to read that content offline or print out pages, if you wish to do that. The PDF is available for open viewing on Slideshare; you can also download a copy for free in exchange for providing Dell with your contact information.

In both instances, what you get includes practical information on topics like these:

  • Social media policies and guidelines
  • Confidentiality and privacy
  • Community guidelines
  • Social media and crisis communications
  • Best practices in other organizations
  • How to develop a social media strategy
  • Choosing your social media channels
  • Measurement and influence
  • Tips from social media experts
  • Practical advice to get started
  • And more

dellsmbchatTo complement the launch of the toolkit, and to address the point I made earlier about the need for better understanding of the relevant potential of social media, Dell is running a number of tweet chats in the coming months centred on the hashtag #DellSMBChat.

The first tweet chat will be on Tuesday March 27, 2012, at 8pm UK / 3pm EDT. I’ll be moderating the discussion.

Detailed information about the tweet chat and how you can take part is in a post on Dell’s SMB blog – in essence, just follow the hashtag on Twitter – but here’s the list of topics up for discussion:

  • What is the future of social media for small and medium businesses?
  • What is the primary reason you are using (or considering using) social media for your business?
  • What social media channel do you find of most value to your business?
  • What primary tools do you use to listen to what your customers are saying online about your company and products?
  • Does your company have social media guidelines to enable employees to engage online with customers effectively?

If you’re running or working in a small or medium business, join us next Tuesday for an hour of discussion designed to help you see how to engage and interact more effectively online, learning from the experiences of others who have leveraged social media. If you have an opinion or a question, share it in the conversation.

In the meantime, please make use of The Social Media Toolkit – a useful resource for small and medium businesses.

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About Neville Hobson

Entrepreneurial business communicator with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Co-host of the weekly business podcast For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Also an occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.