A Word to the Wise
It’s easy to be wise after the event, even better to get advice from those who had to learn the hard way. A previous post mentioned how to deal with negatives comments, and looking at some of the cases that imploded here are some pointers to avoid going social-media-bust, especially for larger companies.
Don’t execute a tactic without having a strategy
The ‘Let’s do Facebook’ approach is asking for trouble. Once a Facebook page is up, it’s public and open for all to comment. Social media is not a campaign, it’s about establishing trust, being genuine and having a sustainable long term goal. If you get it wrong that’s public too – have a clear reason as to why you want to engage in social media, what your objectives are, and what sort of audience you can expect to attract. These objectives should be clearly communicated to everyone across the organization, including directing people how to listen and engage in the dialogue.
Be platform agnostic
Facebook has surpassed Google in terms of search results and in order to be found many companies are considering facebook pages, however, it would be better to be ‘platform agnostic’ and think less about the channel itself and more about the dialogue you want to have before you pick the platform. For example, having a facebook page which had little discussion and a mainly ‘brand.com’ type focus goes against the type of community driven platform that facebook is.
Inbound not outbound marketing
What does that mean? Outbound marketing is all about promoting your brand or product and not about having a conversation, it’s about pushing your brand in a one-way flow of information trying to force people to a particular site. Not only does that have the opposite effect in social media, it makes you really (really) boring. Best approach is to listen and learn to see what questions people have and contribute to the conversation, that’s the sort of expertise people value. And yes, you would be right in thinking that this could well take more time, certainly initially than simple promotion, however, it also brings a higher return.
Clear terms and conditions, disclaimers
Adding clear terms and conditions on a social media page gives readers clarity about the intent of the site and this should also include guidelines for users posting comments on what is and is not permissible. The Mayo Clinic have done this very well publishing publicly publish guidelines for employees on their blog which features stories from patients, families, friends and employees
“The main thing Mayo employees need to remember about blogs and social networking sites is that the same basic policies apply in these spaces as in other areas of their lives. The purpose of these guidelines is to help employees understand how Mayo policies apply to these newer technologies for communication, so you can participate with confidence not only on this blog, but in other social media platforms…”
Have a Central Site
A main site, such as a corporate blog can be a way to establish a credible presence to regularly exchange information and distribute content that becomes known and trusted over time – it becomes a place to redirect people to if comments are happening on other channels outside of their control. Larger companies also need to consider if it is necessary to have a 24/7 regular real time response (particularly if they are a global company spanning different time zones). Any corporate website should have links to all relevant social media accounts including blogs.
Open up social media listings, become technology experts
Social media sites need to be accessible by employees so that they can experience it for themselves, and also so that they can learn about different platforms and their limitations. Some employees may then become experts in the technology and be able to answer questions such as: How does the facebook share button work? How does auto-posting work? How does new social media platform X integrate with existing digital strategy and should the company begin to use it? Which tools should be used to measure social media impact and reach? How does the content appear on mobile phones and readers? How can a post be best optimized for search engines? Expert users not only enable companies to maximize the most out of the content posted, they also save time and potential misuse of information.
Bring competency into different groups to use multiple channels
Although a personal approach is best and a blog or social media account may rely on key individuals it is also important to build a talent pool of individuals who have competency to build social media channels across the organization and establish their own personal dialogue. BMJ Group blogs would be an example of a group who have done this successfully.
A community manager, or overall social strategist, who monitors the entire companies digital assets in terms of social media accounts may also be required, enabling the company to have an overview of the success of different channels and how they are being used. A good community manger should be experienced, know how to handle a full scale organized attack from critics, manage a crisis and protect a company’s valuable digital assets.