When I begin working with a new client, one of the things I ask to see is an inventory of online communication tools used. Sometimes this can seem to be an unnecessary task in the client’s eyes, but my experience is that while most companies “know” the information I’m requesting in the network of their team, rarely is the information fully documented in one specific place. Once the list is together, it becomes a most-useful resource to have on hand for new marketing and communication projects, for when new hires (or interns or volunteers) come on board, and when working with consultants who may not know the day-in-and-day-out details of your company’s communications.
- The tool name,
- The access URL,
- The account name,
- The password (redacted, but in the document for their records),
- The email to which the account is connected (très importante!),
- Who at the company manages the account, and
- And a two- or three-sentence statement for how the communication tool is used and any other important account management points to note.
The result of that query, for one tool, might look like this —
- Sign in: https://twitter.com
- Account name: @hocoblogs
- Password: (redacted)
- Connects to: jessie (at) hocoblogs.com
- Account manager: Jessie manages the account daily and Kimberly TP fills in using Hootsuite when Jessie is off the grid.
- Twitter is used primarily to promote blog posts by Howard County bloggers which is done with short announcements and retweets. It is also used to announce local blogger and social media parties, workshops and events. Hootsuite is often used for posting and ow.ly and bit.ly are used for URL shorteners.
Of course, the quick-to-name tools that come to mind for many organizations nowadays include —
- Linkedin (for your company profile and any groups you might run)
- Email newsletter services such as Blue Sky Factory, Mail Chimp or Constant Contact
Then, of course, there’s the endless list of online tools used inside a business, such as —
- Google Analytics (or other sources),
- Web 2.0 tools, such as Highrise, Basecamp, Huddle and DropBox,
- The company website and/or CMS
- And on and on and on …
For the nature of the work I typically do, I’m looking for information about who is managing what communication tools, so I don’t need to know too many business processes beyond this realm, unless, of course, they relate to communications, community-building and pr. If you run a communications department, or work closely with one, and don’t yet have this type of inventory together, now is a good time to do so. Oh, and it’s helpful to date the document so that you and your team are able to tell when the list might need to be reviewed and updated.