Friday, July 13, 2012

Does Your Business Have Social Media Guidelines?

While The New York Times recently explained that it does not have formal social media guidelines, I don’t think that’s a good idea for most businesses.

As more and more for-profit companies and non-profits develop social media footprints, the issue arises as to which individual or department will be responsible for commenting, responding, and maintaining accounts. The CEO may comment, numerous Vice Presidents may comment, the marketing or public relations department may comment, or the IT department may comment. Before long, lines blur, and chaos results.

But the solution is easy. Your business will avoid many issues if you create a written policy or set of guidelines. The five key elements to include are:

[1] Which Employees Will Post (individual, department, overall ownership).

[2] Posting Schedule (hourly, daily, weekly – and on which sites).

[3] Crisis Posting Plan (i.e., how to respond to negative comments).

[4] Official Voice (i.e., friendly, conversational, or formal).

[5] Be clear that no sensitive or confidential business data may be shared via social media.

Once your business has social media guidelines, distribute them to everyone. This way, people understand what is expected of them and what is not. You may not avoid every possible scenario (remember what happened with the Twitter account for the Aflac Duck), but you will avoid many.

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