Being in charge of a small business means your head is in about fifteen places at once. Instead of thinking about Twitter, you’re thinking about payroll and inventory. Using your employees to help keep up with social media is a great way to help manage the time that goes into staying current with technology. So making sure your employees know how to use social media is imperative. If you have taken the plunge into blogging, Twitter, and Facebook, you need to feel comfortable when your employees are using these tools, which means taking the time to teach them so they become social media masters.
The first question to ask yourself is: do I want my company-wide social media policy set in stone or do I want it to be an evolving part of my company? There are pros and cons to both. If you write it down, your employees know exactly what is expected of them, and you know what you expect of them, and of yourself too. But social media is such a growing, living process that you may constantly be adding and subtracting. Which is totally fine and can be seen as a wonderful combination of both categories. Just be aware that you are going to have to give your employees some sort of guidance.
When developing this policy, it’s best to keep the next ten rules in mind
1.) Make sure your employees understand. Don’t take for granted that those who work for you know how to use social media. Take some time to teach your employees the ins-and-outs of the applications you’ve decided to use. Or ask one of your more social media savvy employees to take on the responsibility of keeping your staff informed and educated on which social media applications your company uses.
2.) Set the tone. Your correspondence with your customers through social media should be as friendly and amiable as possible. Make sure whoever is doing the correspondence understands this.
3.) Know your customers. This applies to so much, but in this specific instance it’s important to know your customers. If you deal with a tech-savvy crowd, make sure whoever is doing your social media can keep up with them. If your crowd is doing the bare basics of social media, take that into account when setting your policy. But never underestimate what your clients can do. The oldest Twitter customer died in July. She was 104.
4.) Brand your social media. Do not let anyone use any personal information when working on your company’s social media. Ever. When your employees are on Facebook, it’s with your company’s page, not their own. Use the company email address, phone number, address etc. when responding to any correspondence.
5.) If you don’t want Grandma reading it, don’t post it. This is an excellent rule for you and your employees. Unless you’re in an adult industry business, make sure that whatever you write or post or respond to is clean. Unless you’re a rock-star chef with a very foul mouth.
6.) Fix problems. Use social media to fix problems with your customers. This is an amazing way to pre-empt an angry phone call. If you are following a customer on Twitter and see they just tweeted about how their sandwich arrived cold, or their last yoga class was lame, you can immediately reach out, apologize, and offer compensation. You’ll turn an unhappy customer into a thrilled one.
7.) Assume you’re being talked about. After you or your employee has a conversation with a customer via social media, assume they told their husband, wife, brother, mother, friend, dry cleaner, dog walker about it. And act accordingly.
8.) Live in the moment. Be on the social media sites as much as possible throughout the day. Don’t want until you or your employees are too exhausted to sit down and read through what people have left on your website or Facebook page and then respond. Keep it a living, breathing process, just like ringing up purchases or helping a customer pick out a fancy new blouse. Putting it off will only make it seem like a nighttime chore that won’t get your full attention.
9.) Keep up with the industry. Make sure you are seeing if there are new social media sites you should be on. Let your employees keep an eye and ear out for anything new they feel you’d be smart to be a part of.
10.) Provide some value. Use your social media accounts to announce sales, and give special deals to those who read your blog or follow you on Twitter. Make your customers think it’s worth their time to follow you and keep up with you. And then actually make it worth their time.
What do you think? Can you follow these rules to make your social media policy even stronger? Do you already have a policy in place?
August 2, 2010
have you looked into the types of integration that social media and blogging can have with Intranets or Extranets? Microsoft SharePoint in particular seems to have a strong focus on both of these options, and more companies seems to be integrating blogging or social media to be used for internal communication or even to interact with a customer base. (i.e. giving your sales staff the ability to each have their own client-facing page to which they can reference while blogging, twittering, etc.)
How do you feel about companies providing some sort of autonomy to their employees for using social media from under a company’s umbrella?
Should there be some sort of “company guidelines” for what is said by anyone posting so the sound is consistent, or is there an advantage to a small business for having multiple voices?
August 2, 2010
This is a great question. I absolutely think that providing employees personal social media platforms from under the company’s umbrella is an excellent idea. As long a there are guidelines to be followed and the staff is trained. Letting employees go willy-nilly on social media without giving expectations is probably not the best idea.