Clearly brands all over the world are embracing Social Media Marketing. But, many companies don’t understand how to identify and enforce standards, practices and social media platforms for new and existing employees. Here are some background items to weigh coupled with a Social Media Policy outline at the bottom.
1) Social Media Policy will vary widely depending on the size of the company; smaller companies typically are more flexible, as they are more concerned with broad brand awareness, presence, engagement and not so focused on identifying a strict Social Media Policy.
Bigger companies have more policy and procedural structure – marketing wants to “own” social medi and may not want field sales to be Tweeting about customer wins in the field, new product launches, channel training opportunities, etc.
2) Regardless of the size of company, if using Social Media Marketing for business you may want to adopt multiple accounts that may focus on different goals and objectives. Your exec staff may want to “engage” with Customers, Suppliers and Channel Accounts, while sales may want to Blog or Tweet about “wins” in the marketplace that reflect broader marketing objectives and customer service wants to monitor and respond to customer driven issues.
Depending on the platform, individuals who are engaging in social media marketing may want to identify who they are, enabling each person to establish a focused “account personality” and engagement with some subset of the broad social community.
As an example, Zappos has done a wonderful job of creating multiple “personalities” by creating individual Social Media Accounts for Sales, Customer Service, Help Desk and all have somewhat of a dynamic “flavor” which dovetails with their CEOs personality,
3) Many of the horror stories you are reading about come into play for anyone on Social Media (regardless of company size) when personal and professional content is commingled indiscriminately.
There’s a fine line between adding some “personality” to a Social Media Marketing campaign versus crossing over into too personal; i.e. “uploading selfies via the office hot tub party” to Twitter or Instagram is not always a great idea. Save it for a personal Facebook profile if you must.
4) For many companies it may be necessary to require individuals to have Personal and Professional accounts for multiple Social Media Platforms, ensuring personal anecdotes don’t get co-mingled with corporate or business communications.
5) One of the biggest surprises that many don’t anticipate is the realization that keywords used in Social Media Communications processes may or will show up in “real time” search results on Twitter, Google, HuffingtonPost, Yahoo, etc. Social Media Content can have a longer “shelf life” than many anticipate.
6) Companies have to think about their company culture and DNA prior to coming up with a Social Media Policy – Nike is going to have a much more aggressive tendency to push content out onto the Social Web than say Visa, as an example.
Social Media Policy Outline
1) Goals of Social Media Marketing Campaign; i.e. broad brand awareness campaign that may be utilize multiple contributors, tightly focused marketing message that is controlled by one central individual or department, listening to and engaging customers who are commenting on the brand or who may be voicing customer service complaints or issues, identifying a topic brand that you want to dominate via Social Media Marketing, etc.
2) What is your company culture or DNA, which impacts strategy & messaging? If you are a young aggressive start up then you may want to be much more aggressive in terms of building a Social Media Brand as an example.
3) What Platforms do “you” want to Support: Twitter, Facebook, Blog, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn? Each platform has different content needs.
4) What is your content strategy and who is the keeper or originator of the source content ? Everything in Social Media flows from the content initially – whoever controls this determines to a certain extent what is said and how your Social Media Brand is conveyed.
5) Defining Policy and Procedures for New Employees, Contractors, Channel Accounts, Agencies, etc. – this can be a one page document that outlines responsibilities, how to submit permission requests, what to say/not to say, etc.
6) Be aware, the more limitations you put on employees responding to and engaging with the Social Media Community the more you may limit your marketing ROI – a lighter touch in most cases is optimum.
7) Social Media Marketing is moving at warp speed, with new Platforms, Technologies, etc. being developed every day – be flexible with your Social Media Policy and be aware it will need to be updated frequently.
8) Less is more when it comes to a Social Media Policy. You should be able to distill your policy down to a 8-10 bullet points Word doc.
9) Reward employees for using Social Media, even if they make some mistakes – the upside for having employees engage with the community outweighs the potential negatives in most cases.
These platforms and processes are moving at warp speed. Meaning, there is no hard and fast social media policy that dovetails with marketing strategy and tactics in a meaningful way.
The place to start is a 1.0 iteration that outlines 30K foot rules of the road for your staff and company, coupled with regular updates reflecting different platforms you may be moving to, size of marketing staff and your overarching content marketing strategy.