Before you get into your car, hop onto your bicycle, or load up the boat, you’ve made decisions about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. You also understand the laws of operating your vehicle.
The process isn’t dissimilar for companies and associations about to embark on a social media program. There’s preparation that must take place before the first post or tweet.
You need a social media plan AND a social media policy.
What’s the difference? Think of a plan as the map, whereas the policy serves as the “rules of the road.”
Thinking It Through
The first step in developing a high impact social media program is to create a plan that answers a number of critical questions. Some of them are:
• What are your goals?
• How will you use social media to achieve those objectives?
• What platforms will you use? Should you use video?
• Will social media be used only to promote the brand? What about customer service? Or recruiting?
• If you want to use social media for business development, will all employees and team members be permitted to participate?
• What about social media advertising?
• How often will analytics be reviewed and by whom?
• Who will be in charge and available if a crisis occurs?
• Do you have enough staff or will you need agency support?
• Will your social media program be integrated into your marketing and business strategy?
A good place to start the process of creating a plan is a benchmark analysis to determine how competitors and clients use social media.
Then, of course, there’s the question of budget. Social media is not free.
The social media policy should include internal and external components. Among the issues to be addressed include:
• An employee code of online conduct for the use of social media at work and away from work when it relates to the firm;
• The right to monitor employee use at work and comments made about the company on the Internet at any time;
• The right to remove content posted from company systems;
• Legal disclosure, if any, on the platforms;
• Mandatory use of an archiving and review system and explanation of how compliance will provide oversight;
• Training requirements, including IT security; and
• Outline of the disciplinary process for policy violations.
Once your plan is in place and policy is written, you can finish building your systems, get your people trained, and get to work.
It’s a big new social world out there. What are you waiting for?
Need help with your program? Contact us right now at 202.630.8014 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.
SCOTT PETERSON, co-founder of Relay Station Social Media LLC, has over a decade of experience in market, securities, and regulatory communications. His firm provides strategic communications consulting, integrated Internet marketing, compliance training, and more to a wide range of organizations.
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