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How to Create a Social Media Policy for ANY Company:
In the past few months, the reliance on the social web has grown to massive numbers, and a strong social presence is second only to a mobile presence as a top goal for many brands. One of the biggest challenges with social branding is figuring out how to determine ROI (return on investment), even if the investment is only time.
No matter the size or reputation of a company, a strong, fair, and clear policy is essential to driving the day-to-day business decisions. Many brands wouldn’t think twice about setting rules for employee time off, dealing with the press, or setting discounts to vendors – dealing with a worldwide communication platform should be no different.
The topic of company-wide social media policies was brought back into the spotlight last week by a situation involving HMV – the international retailer of music and entertainment. While announcing a round of layoffs, the “social media intern” live-tweeted the firings, causing the internal matter to go viral. It’s almost poetic – a brick and mortar record store goes out of business due to the industry going digital; it’s no wonder they didn’t have their ducks in a row when it comes to social marketing.
Today, 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies have Twitter accounts, and social media is a staple of corporate strategy. Here’s some basic strategies to develop and establish a social media policy for your small business or brand.
1.Define Success – When jumping into social media marketing, you need to set clear benchmarks of success to ensure that your time is effectively spent. This can be a quantifiable number – such as direct sales, signups, downloads, traffic, friends, followers, or retweets. This can also be an objective goal, such as increasing positive reviews, better responding to customer concerns, or generating more leads.
2. Target Your Audience- Just because Facebook has millions of users doesn’t mean they all want to hear from you! Every successful brand does massive research on their ideal customer base, and knows that certain factors (gender, age, location, interests, etc) make someone more likely to buy their product or service. When you have this information figured out, you’ll be more able to find groups, niche blogs, and online gathering places where your expertise is a perfect fit.
3. Select your Service – As a companion to the last step, the primary services you use for your social marketing programs will have a major difference on your successes. While there are universal benefits to being on Facebook and Twitter (i.e., search discovery, direct communication with users), other popular platforms make better sense for different industries. A B2B company is better off with a Linkedin profile to present a professional approach to social networking. A brick-and-mortar shop owner can use mobile check-in networks like Foursquare and Yelp to reward customers for sharing their in-store activity.
4. Schedule Operations – Social media marketing is an investment in your brand’s future – it’s not a line item task that should be delegated to clock-watchers and interns. Each service and goal you are reaching towards needs daily attention and upkeep from decision makers – even on weekends and holidays. Consider tools and services that will automate and schedule posting to a degree, but don’t go full auto-pilot!
5. Choose Your Voice – Within your social media strategy, you should think about a tone that your company is comfortable with. It should remain professional and in line with the personality of your brand, but relatively informal and you may wish to give some thought to mirroring the language of your clients/customers. Include a personal touch, empathizing with the customer and not being afraid to inject some humor into your posts. It’ll give people all the more reason to follow you!
6. Modify Steps 1-5 – Wait….what?? You may find that your social media strategy could benefit from an alignment of goals – everything that can be tested and optimized should be looked at constantly, and risks should be taken. The truth about the social web is that it’s always evolving, and brands that are paying attention to trends and emerging tools are reaping the benefits of being on the cutting edge.
What is the social media policy of your company? How can it change in a week? Three months? By next year? Let us know in the comments below.
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