News & Events
#019 – Creating a Savvy Social Media Policy
- 15th November 2017
- Posted by: Liz Gordon
- Category: Episodes
Hi everyone, and welcome to the Marketing Menu with me, Liz, and Nicky. And a slight change of plan listeners, we had planned to talk about radio and TV advertising this week but in light of Twitter’s announcement, we’ve decided to talk about why your business should have a Social Media Policy and how to create one.
Yes, we’re not convinced, are we Liz, about the Twitter 280 characters?
No, but we’ll reserve judgment until we see how some of the bigger players operate. My fear is that the people who this is trying to help, and by that, I mean smaller businesses who are trying to get more followers, will be the very ones who find it hard to come up with engaging content.Download transcript 348kb
©The Marketing Menu 2017. All rights reserved.
Apparently, in the trial, only 5% of tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% more than 190 but those who did use the longer tweets, got more followers, more engagement and spent more time on the site.
I have to say I liked the fact that Twitter was brief and could be used a signpost to other social media channels like Facebook where you could go into more detail.
Yes and I worry that people will think they have to use more characters and therefore their message will actually be watered down rather than helped. Funnily enough, I ran a Twitter poll yesterday asking whether people liked the new or old and 60 % came back and said the new which surprised me, obviously not a very scientific test but it’s interesting perhaps we’re not in agreement with the masses here.
We will see! We’ll keep you posted listeners. So, on to social media policy.
We covered how social media can help your business way back in Podcast 8 so that’s worth referring back to if you need a refresh about how it could work for your business. In that podcast, we did briefly touch on how to behave on social media so we thought we would go into more detail today.
So, just a reminder of the benefits if you’re using social media as part of your business marketing strategy. Obviously, it can help establish your brand, improve customer service and help you be seen amongst competitors.
Plus it’s a low-cost form of marketing, it can build loyalty in your customers when they share content and should form part of your PR strategy.
The biggest challenges that we hear from clients is time, people think they have to spend a lot of time on it and in particular thinking about what they are going to say.
I agree, and quite often they are trying to do too much by spreading themselves too thinly over too many platforms when actually focusing on the ones where their customers actually are would be more effective.
So the key to success is to have a plan, target a specific audience and deliver engaging content. Tune in to Podcast 003 where we talk about Crushing it with Storytelling for ideas about what you could share.
I guess a lot of people will think ‘oh. I don’t a social media policy, I do it all myself’ or ‘I leave to someone in the team’. Well, this is exactly why you should have one! By setting out clearly how you operate your social media account means that anyone new coming on to the team or taking over the posting will know exactly what is expected of them.
The social media policy can form part of your PR policy and can ensure your reputation online is protected. It provides clear guidelines for employees about how to behave on social media when representing your business and determines what is & isn’t acceptable.
So why are a Social Media Policy and Company Best Practice Needed?
Well, the world is changing fast, and how we communicate is changing even faster – it is a growing phenomenon embraced by all generations. There are great benefits to today’s technology and its widespread use, but there are also risks. Of course, it can also:
- Get the Company, and you, in legal trouble with government agencies, other companies, customers or the general public
- Diminish the brand name by creating negative publicity for The Company, owners, and partners, as well as yourself or your team
- Cause damage to The Company by releasing non-public information or proprietary information
- Cost us the ability to get patents or undermine our competitive advantage
- And ultimately cost you your job at the Company
And I would suggest that most of these won’t trouble companies if employees use common sense and good judgment in their online interaction. And it draws a line between private use & work.
I think this is a really important point actually. A lot of people think that because they have a personal Facebook or Twitter account, that they know how to use it. But it’s a completely different ball game when it comes to using them for business.
Yes absolutely right, and this is where you need to protect your company reputation. You can’t risk someone posting a personal opinion, responding to another tweet inappropriately or sharing posts that have no relevance to your business.
Just to mention here that you could also include any email policy you have and set out that any online posts should not disclose any confidential information.
You should also emphasise that logos or branding should only be used with permission.
Good point! Yes, you may have a library of photos that you draw from so you can set out that any images should be drawn from there where you know they have been pre-approved.
So specifically, the policy can identify which platforms are being used and why they have been chosen. Is it because you use Twitter to link to more in-depth Facebook posts? Are you using Instagram to showcase pictures of your products?
And how often are you posting on these platforms? There are many benefits for setting out the frequency of posts. One is that it takes the pressure off trying to find content.
Actually, there is a really good formula from marketingwizdom which says that the ideal Twitter profile should consist of about:
- 30% conversational @replies
- 30% retweets
- 40% interesting broadcast tweets, hopefully with an opinion or link, of which only about 25% (10% of total tweets) are self-promotional
Oh you’ll get me on a rant Liz if we start talking about balance because as I often point out to clients SM is NOT necessarily about ROI unless you are selling products, which we many of us are are not, it is about presence, relationship building and being at the forefront of peoples minds; people have to see marketing (products at least) between 5-7 times before acting on it and most importantly people follow friends recommendations and speak to like-minded individuals.
So, I like to say remember the 1/3rd rule: One Third About YOU – you know stories and free information One Third about others – sharing others content and One Third Overt SALE.
So listeners, although we’re deviating a little, do have a think about this in terms of the content you are currently putting out there.
Yes we had a client who really started talking and sharing other peoples content didn’t we who then found their advertising spend then could dramatically reduce and they started getting more engagement.
Engagement Liz, it’s what social media is all about.. so that’s really good, so going back to the policy this can set out how to respond to those conversational tweets, what type of posts to retweet. You can apply the same principle to Facebook & Instagram too.
It’s also important to set out timescales for responses – are you going to thank people for following you or for retweeting and, if so, how soon? Individually or wait until you have a few to thank in one go. Either is acceptable but by stating when in your policy, it means that it won’t get overlooked.
Could we just mention LinkedIn here?
I think a lot of people get confused about how to use LinkedIn when they are representing a business.
Yes, of course, LinkedIn was originally set up as a platform for individuals to connect and use it like an online CV. It’s grown so much and is now an excellent channel for showcasing expertise by publishing blogs and even advertising.
And before, employees could share any business information by creating their own posts from their personal profiles. However, now businesses with company pages and showcase pages they can post directly on to their own account. Employees can join the page and then share from it.
So again it’s very important to set out in your policy who is responsible for posting on the company page and also the protocol around employees sharing from their personal profiles.
Just before we look at what else needs to be included in the social media policy, let’s just remind listeners our podcasts are published every fortnight on a Wednesday on iTunes, Blubrry, Stitcher & TuneIn and, of course, they are completely free so do share with anyone you feel would benefit from what we cover.
We also offer a transcript of all our podcasts which you can find on our website themarketingmenu.com and we are active on social media so you can find us on Twitter & Facebook posting and sharing good solid marketing tips and tricks. And you can also find The Marketing Menu on LinkedIn!
So, back to the social media policy, what should be included?
Well, at the top of the document, it needs to state the name of your company, who has prepared the document, the date and when it was approved, if relevant, and when it comes into practice.
Next, it’s helpful to state who is responsible for what so who is the person responsible for the posting. Are they the same person who will be providing the content? This would apply particularly if you work for a larger company who has a separate Marketing Manager, IT Manager, Customer Service Manager etc.
The best way to find a social media advocate within the company is to seek out the person or team of people who are most passionate about communicating with customers in social media. They may already be doing so without you knowing it. Seek those people out and train them well to represent your brand.”
Basic advice should include requesting that employees should familiarise themselves with the social media channels you are using, to look back at how the accounts have been operated and maybe have a look at other accounts that you follow that you particularly like or respect to give them an idea of what is expected.
It might sound really obvious but it’s important to reiterate that employees are expected to be polite when posting and responding and always to speak in the business voice.
We’ve said it before but it’s a good rule to say don’t ever say on social media what you wouldn’t say in an email or on the phone.
Yes, it can breed a certain familiarity, can’t it? I remember when I first started my business Twitter account, I was following a celebrity and was tempted to send a tweet in response to a personal opinion they had but luckily I remembered in time that this was my business account and wouldn’t have been appropriate.
Yes, think about what really constitutes social media too? You must have your own (preferably) written definition. This is especially true because new websites and tools emerge all the time.
My personal definition of social media is any website or medium (including video) that allows for communication in the open.”
Plus as with any offline or online content written, used, received, developed, or saved in company-owned electronics provided to employees, clarify who owns what. There is no question, as an example, about a personal blog, written by an employee, on his own time. If he leaves your employ, the blog and the content belong to him.
But, the content of his company-owned laptop and cell phone, and the content he wrote for the company website, probably belong, by written policy, to the company.
This brings up a good point actually – you may want to start a personal account so you can share your own opinions particularly if you have a strong belief but just be careful if you also share your business posts and people make the connection. You are still representing your business. Same goes for employees.
Establish ground rules for employee participation in social media. You walk a fine line with employees. You need to allow employees the freedom to engage in social media, yet protect the company at the same time.
While your employees probably already exercise good common sense while participating online, your social media policy must specifically address examples of taboo topics. Confidential, proprietary, non-released company information must stay out of social media. Private and personal information about your work and your coworkers and customers must never appear online.
The public image of your employees in social media, if they can be associated with your company, does matter. Nastiness, offensiveness, disparaging comments, untruthful statements, demeaning behavior, and illegal substance use, are all examples of behaviour your social media policy must address.
Create a system for monitoring the social media sphere.
Make training easily available to your employees who want to participate in social media. Think win-win. Nobody likes to be bossed around – especially when it comes to their own social networking. However, most people are open to learning about how to better leverage these social media sites to further their own careers and brands. Most people who make mistakes online just don’t know any better.
If you expect your employees to utilise the social networking tools properly, you must provide training. What they put out there isn’t just a reflection of the company; it is also a reflection of them. Make it a win-win for everybody.”
So back to the policy. You may want to set out how employees should respond to enquiries, disputes or complaints. The best advice is to be polite in the response but to take the conversation offline as soon as possible.
Yes, we talked about this in Podcast 011 which was all about Gaining Fabulous Feedback. You were saying, Nicky, that you have more respect for businesses that you can see have responded quickly to an issue and were obviously dealing with it?
That’s right, it makes me trust them more. But I also feel that if you have this kind of thing set out in your policy, there is less room for error?
Indeed. Other issues you can cover include safe use of social media, looking out for phishing and scams, security and data protection and copyright issues.
Listeners, don’t panic, we’re going to give you a link to an excellent Social Media Policy Template produced by Tech Donut that you can customise for your own business. But it’s good to understand why certain areas need to be included.
Brilliant. You may, of course, have your own staff handbook that may have areas like these covered but it’s good to have them reiterated in the Social Media Policy for ease of reference.
Yes, it’s all about staying safe online and protecting whoever is responsible for operating the accounts. You should also set out your policy for dealing with breaches of confidentiality, unacceptable behavior or bringing the company into disrepute.
A lot of what we have talked about relates to bigger companies but these can equally be applied to smaller businesses. Having a policy that sets out how many times a day you are going to post, how you respond, and your tone of voice is really useful in helping you formulate how you will manage your social media accounts.
So listeners, let’s just highlight five steps you should take today
- Develop a social media strategy consistent with your goals and objectives
- Clearly establish roles and responsibilities with respect to social media
- Identify risks inherent in the organisation’s social media strategy
- Determine key required risk management practices including the communication of social media policies
- Implement a process to proactively monitor and respond to what is being discussed online about your business
Well, that brings us to the end of this podcast and we hope that what we’ve shared has been useful. As we mentioned, there will be a link to a template so you can see the type of wording to use and incorporate your own strategy.
Perhaps we should also mention Nicky that you’ve been working on our online Savvy Social Media course that sets out all this and so much more if people are interested. So hop over to our website themarketingmenu.com to take a look at that too.
Yes it’s got heaps of content to help you build your online presence, professionally with engagement at its heart BONUS Coupon Code: PODCAST10
Our next podcast will be on 29th November when we’re going to be talking about what you need to run your own podcast and remember listeners if you have any interesting stories to share or indeed feedback to any of our own podcasts do please get in touch we’re always looking for local people willing to share some business expertise.
So it’s goodbye from me, Liz.
And from me, Nicky, goodbye.
©The Marketing Menu 2017. All rights reserved.