With the growth of a company, chances are the online presence will also grow. This is good news, because with the online landscape continuing to mature, the opportunities to communicate with others and the world is evolving, adding to your reach and, ultimately, your bottom line. It is important to encourage all employees, if they are so inclined, to, therefore, participate in social media and be champions on behalf of your company. Keep in mind that while social media platforms do create new opportunities for personal expression, communication, and engagement with the team, fans, accounts, potential customers and, let's not forget, media/bloggers, they also create new responsibilities.
Employees are viewed by customers, accounts, and other outside parties as a representative of the company. Whether or not an employee specifically references or discusses their work, their participation on social media platforms or other forms of online communication is a reflection on the company. So, remember when using social media as a tool, they act as an advocate for the company online.
Below are some guidelines on using social media the right way. Please keep in mind that these are only guidelines and not 'carved-in-stone' policies. The bottom line is that we should all use common sense when posting anything as a representative of a company and/or on the company's platforms.
But before getting into specific guidelines, let's ask why should a company engage in social media and what are the ultimate goals?
Why Social Media?
The purpose of social media is for us to become social with people who want to get to know us. Sharing, liking and commenting are ways to converse. They want to not only hear from us but want to see the human side of a company.
Imagine if you were at a party and someone came up to you and you did not respond back. They would quickly move to the next person. The same thing happens on social media. If they feel that they are being heard by deaf ears they will surely move on. The same thing goes when you only talk about yourself. Do you not think the person listening would be tired of hearing you go on and on about yourself? Keep it interesting by promoting your clients/accounts, fans/bloggers and/or share anything interesting in your industry.
Social Media Goals
The goal is to show that your company not only has a human side, are proud of what you do, but that you also care what your customers have to say.
With that in mind, social media is probably the most efficient and effective tool for customer service. Companies get nervous when a negative response it posted on one of their platforms, like a comment on Facebook. I can assure you that people are looking more at how you respond to the comment/complaint, rather than the comment itself. This is where you can shine, by being honest, humble and ready to resolve whatever the problem is.
The main goal of social media is brand awareness, marketing, connecting with customers, colleagues, accounts and media/bloggers. You want to build excitement about who you are and what you are doing.
- Family secrets - You know the whole saying "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas". Same idea here. Keep the disputes, errors, and family recipes to yourself.
- Keep it positive - No slamming anyone and/or any company. Period.
- Opinions - It is fine to post a potential controversial article but keep opinions to yourself. You want to inform your fans about the industry but you do not want to take sides. A great way to post something controversial is saying "What do you think of this?"
If you are passionate about a cause, etc these are more appropriate on your own platforms. Remember, if you want to post on the company's account you are posting on behalf of the company, not you as an individual.
- Who can post - Anyone should be encouraged to post, but if you do, add your initials to the post. All platforms should be monitored by the social media coordinator/community manager
- Who is listening - Carefully consider who is listening. Think about how an existing or potential customer, account, colleague, etc. may react to a post. What is said or posted online is available to other employees, customers, accounts, bloggers/media and even competitors, so remember all the people who might be reading what you say and keep it professional.
- Team player - Social media is fun, engaging and can show followers the spirit of a company. So enjoy!