If your company is just starting off in social media, the first thing you should do is get buy in from some key stakeholders in your company. The most effective way to do this is to get them involved in your plans early on. An early way to get them involved is by holding a brainstorming session.
Brainstorming ideas is all about asking high quality questions. It’s these kinds of open-ended questions that start with ‘how’ and ‘what’ that free our thinking and let us come up with creative ideas. Once you identify the people whose buy-in you need, get them in a room together and ask them some high quality questions. Here are some ways to do this:
- Give participants a few minutes to write down their answers to each question on a piece of paper individually and in silence, and then have each person debrief to the group.
- Another approach could be do divide people into smaller groups and have them tackle one or two logically grouped questions each. When the allotted time passes, debrief as a group.
- Place pieces of paper with different questions around the room. Please a person at each. Ask them to answer the question in front of them. Rotate the people every 60 seconds until everyone gets a chance to answer each question. Debrief as a group.
Ground rules for brainstorming
There are some ground rules to brainstorming, which will help you achieve the best possible outcome out of the session:
1. Focus on quantity. The greater the number of ideas, the greater the chances of producing something really good.
2. Withhold criticism. If you make people feel safe in the brainstorming environment, they will be more likely to come up with thinking outside the box.
3. Welcome unusual ideas. The point of brainstorming is to generate ideas that you wouldn’t think of otherwise. Unusual ideas may be scary of weird at first, but they made up being the solution you were looking for in the end.
4. Combine and improve ideas. Combine two OK ideas and see if you can get an amazing idea out of them.
As usual, Wikipedia offers a lot more tips for how to hold a brainstorming session.
Here are some possible questions you could try using in your brainstorm:
- What are possible social networks where our customers participate?
- What are some other possible websites where our customers engage in conversation?
- What are possible topics our customers want to know about?
- How can we possibly involve senior management in communicating with our customers?
- What are possible reasons for starting a social media program?
- Who can we possibly involve in our social media program?
- What are possible obstacles that could stand in our way?
- How can we possibly overcome any obstacles?
- It’s a year from now. Imagine you’re our customer who wants to give us feedback online. How would you go about it?
- It’s a year from now. Imagine you’re one of our most fierce competitors’ customers and you want to give our competitor feedback. How would go about it?
The questions you can ask are unlimited and will depend on the goal you’re trying to accomplish. Just be sure that you ask open-ended questions to allow people to think without any constraints being placed upon them.