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Building Smart Social

So you’ve decided your casual approach to social media needs some structure. (Remember: Stick to the “Big Three” for your business’ social media presence.) Using my advice, you’ve created Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for your business. Now what? How do you ensure consistency in management?

You need to create social media guidelines to govern your business’s rules, online branding, and response decisions across platforms. Once you create a framework, you can then develop a social media strategy.

Social media guidelines are relatively simple to craft, and every business with an online presence should have approved rules on record. Not only do guidelines limit confusion, they lay the foundation for building a brand online and guide your team in implementing strategy. These guidelines can be brief and allow for management flexibility, or they can be lengthy and outline all aspects of online interaction. Regardless of length, they should always include the following:

Introduction to your company.

This should include your company’s background, a brief explanation of your guidelines, and a clear summary of the company’s established brand and service ethos. This introduction and background assists in on-boarding new social media managers as the company’s needs change.

Contact information for personnel responsible for the company’s social.

Include the name, title, and contact information of at least two people in case one is unreachable in a viral situation.

Master list of your company’s social media accounts and their primary purpose.

For example:

Twitter (@skostal): Business and legal updates, related news

LinkedIn (susankostal): Visual media, written content

General rules governing all employees’s online and social media activity as it pertains to your company.

This section requires some serious reflection on your company’s worst-case scenarios. Consider these questions:

  • Are all employees allowed to respond to online complaints?

  • What is your company policy for discussing the workplace online?

  • Do you have a just-in-case policy for online harassment?

  • What is your policy for media and public relations inquiries?

Probably not, if they have good guidelines.

General rules for online media use at work.

Your employees are perfect angels, but consider the worst-case scenario:

  • Are employees allowed to use work time for personal online activity?

  • What sort of content is banned at work?

  • Is personal social media content allowed in your workplace?

Specific rules for the social media managers.

Consider the responsibilities of your social media managers (SMM) and how they relate to your company. Build rules around the following responsibilities:

  • Perform social media audits to keep information current, determine areas of growth, and reflect on best practices.

  • Create and curate content for distribution on the appropriate platforms.

  • Respond to posts and feedback in a timely and courteous fashion.

  • Refer high-level inquiries to the appropriate personnel.

If there are a number of people responsible for customer service, marketing, communications, and public relations within your company or if several people manage your social media, you should consider creating a response web, which guides the SMM’s referral to appropriate personnel.

Regardless of whether you’re new to online media or already have active accounts, you will benefit from implementing thoughtful social media guidelines. They standardize your online operations and serve as a useful project management tool as your business evolves.

Jen Hand is a social media manager, small business consultant, project manager, and writer. Find more great content @jayhizzfoshizz.

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