In this day and age, even the most conservative organisations have a social media presence – or at least an awareness. Organisations that deal with high risk activities such as police, hospitals. Just as having a web-site and email is now a mainstream part of business operations, having a social media presence and operations is becoming a normal part of operations for most businesses today.
For organisations that are sales or marketing-based, thinking about social media is a relatively straight-forward effort. Basically you want to attract as many of the right people (buyers) as possible and funnel them through a sales / service / value-add process. You might want to siphon off any customer-service efforts, and keep an eye out for criticisms and complaints, ensuring that you know how to deal with them effectively and convincingly.
Other organisations – particularly those with a government / conservative / service focus, might have different needs, aims and issues for social media. These need to be carefully thought through before you jump on the bandwagon – or the bandwidth wagon!
Here are some of the things you might want to think of when developing your social media policies and strategies.
1. How can social media fit in with your Business Plan? Social media is a tool and a medium. It needs to be part of your strategic business planning as well as strategic communication planning.
2. What opportunities does social media offer for your to do your business better / cheaper / more accessibly? This will determine which platforms you want to use. Where is the value proposition?
3. Who will be doing the social media aspect of your business? While you Gen Y employees might be most familiar with the platforms and social conventions of social media, they may not be au fait with the politics of your business. As with other media contacts, this person mneeds to both understand the business and the medium.
4. How will you resource your social media involvement? Social media happens 24/7. messages get sent and resent in a split second. WHile you may not need to monitor 24/7, you do need to have timely responses.
5. How will you deal with criticisms / negative comments / misinformation? Best to know this up front. Deleting comments may bring accusations of censorship. (However you might want to establish some moderation rules about acceptable posting so you can remove irrelevant posts, abuse and spam) Responding at length can make an issue out of a minor comment. Leaving up misinformation – especially if it is positive to you – can bring lawsuits about truth in advertising. The important thing is to have thought about this in advance so it doesn’t catch you by surprise.
6. How will you record both your output on social media, and also the input you get from your customers and community? For some organisations this will have legal implications, however it is good practice to have these records anyway.
7. What policies will you have around your employees and social media? This has implications in terms of code of conduct / safe workplace issues, but also in terms of your processes around social media.
8. Will you have a main social media platform or different platforms for different parts of the business? For instance, television statsions often have different platforms and pages for different shows – versus, one main platform with pointers to different aspects of your business.
9. How will you attract business to your social media platforms? It is not a case of “build it and they will come”. Social media now needs to be part of your marketing campaign – both to sell your business and to attract people to “membership” of your social networks.
There are plenty of social media policies on the internet to work from, and plenty of examples of exemplary use of social media – Brisbane City Council’s use of facebook and Twitter during the 2011 Queensland floods demonstrate an excellent value proposition for social media and the reveiws are available online.
Social media is here to stay – but your business will want to use it intelligently.