Listening is the First Stage in Planning Our Online Presence

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on April 24, 2012

in Online Presence

As more and more communication takes place on the Internet, organizations and ministries are recognizing that not all websites, social media sites, or blogs are equal. Some are more effective than others. Some are really good and others are really bad. What makes the difference? One of the variables has to be the planning process that brings a site to life.

To be successful on the Internet whether we have one platform i.e. a website or a Facebook page or many platforms, careful strategic planning, a commitment to disciplined implementation of the plan and monitoring against the plan are critical. An effective plan is not—“Let’s put up a website next month.”

A well thought out master plan begins with asking the right questions of ourselves and others. We need to listen carefully to the answers as these answers are the foundation upon which our plan will be built.

Here are some of the key questions to ask:

  • What is our mission?
  • How will an online presence support that mission?
  • What are the three to five specific goals of our online presence?
  • Who will our audiences be?
  • What do our audiences need and want from our online presence?
  • Who are the stakeholders in our online presence? Who are the decision makers, content owners, etc.? What do they want and need from our online presence?
  • What resources, human and financial, will we dedicate to our online presence?
  • How long are we planning for? Three, five, ten years?
  • What is the content we will be delivering? How will it be organized?
  • Which platform (s) best serve(s) our goals and our audiences? (If we are planning to use multiple platforms, we are wise to think in stages. Which one will we launch first and how will our platforms be integrated once they are all operative?)

During the listening phase, we are identifying the people who will be responsible for the content of the online presence: creating it, reviewing it, posting it. We will also learn what they will need to do their jobs. We are also listening for what our intended audiences want and need. What we have to offer as part of our mission needs to respond in large measure to what people want and need from us. Otherwise, our web presence will have no purpose.

What other questions should we ask during this listening phase?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF April 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

One of the questions that I feel is very important to ask in the listening stage is – Who is ready to become involved in social media communication? Do we need to train our members?

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND April 25, 2012 at 5:30 am

You make a very good point, Caroline. Actually two points: who is ready to contribute and how do we train those who will be involved. An organization’s online presence is a team effort–if it is left to one person or to a small group, it will be weaker than if more members participate. As for training, my first approach is to train individuals for one task at a time. Then I know the task will be taken care of and they know that they are making a contribution.

Maureen Spillane SND April 25, 2012 at 8:18 am

Susan you have shared some very important points regarding involvement in social media. Food for thought actually. Thank you !

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