A guide to social success. Here’s how you keep your program on the rails all the while greasing the wheels

For the same reason children need guidance and instruction in their formative years, social media needs good policy to ensure it doesn’t go off the rails. Yes, social media is growing up fast – but in a corporate environment, it is far less mature. Managing multiple personas can be tricky, because even corporations say they want to be fun, effervescent and casual – but what does that mean? Certainly not the same thing as it does when you post updates late on a Saturday evening for your friends on Facebook.

And no, I’m not advocating censorship. I know that for social media to work it needs to be fluid, but a little forethought about how you want your brand to thrive on social will go a long way! The reason it is essential is because it isn’t contingent on one single person. If you want to experience the fullness of what social can bring to your organisation it will involve multiple stakeholders – and they need to have an idea as to the role they play and the direction they’re pulling in.

The other really important thing to remember about freeing up your team is they must believe they’ve been empowered as brand ambassadors. The last thing you want is paralysis by analysis. Your team can be just as damaging saying nothing, as they can saying too much. Avoid this by making expectations clear. A policy that states asking for forgiveness is better than asking for permission, is still a policy! The last thing you want is for your staff to have a fear of the unknown and therefore never truly invest themselves into what you are about.

The key guiding principles you need in your social media policy:

Language: A style guide isn’t a bad idea. Seeing examples of phraseology is a practical help. Are you ok with txt spk 4 eg? It also extends to what you will and won’t comment on. Getting in arguments with your competitors is not where you want to be. You can’t get upset afterwards, if you haven’t been upfront with your team.

Time: If you don’t set a framework for engagement, you also can’t blame people when things don’t get responded to or escalated in a timely fashion. The beauty of social is it brings your targets closer to you. Don’t push them away by leaving comments and questions open, or unanswered too long, even if it’s just to say you are looking into it and will be back to them within the next business day.

Chain: Sometimes you will get a curly one. Even as the comms manager, while the buck stops with you, you won’t always be in a position to answer everything. So… be it you, or someone else, what is the process of escalation – the chain of responsibility. Agree it with your management team and make it transparent to all your staff. Make it everyone’s responsibility to flag potential issues via a group email alias, otherwise you’ll likely find people scratching their heads saying “I thought so-and-so would look after it”. Don’t assume!

Purpose: If your team isn’t clear on the point, you are lost at sea. Prioritise the purposes for people. Don’t set your sales team loose and unbridled if your brand challenge is strengthening your services and support image. Likewise, don’t let your marketing team go nuts with campaigns, prizes and stunts if you are looking to cement your position as a thought leader around corporate social responsibility. Don’t lose opportunities because you didn’t think they were worth articulating.

Finally, policy can enable, but it’s not the be all and end all. As a comms pro, that’s where your job starts, not ends. Let contributors know there will be monthly interlock sessions to review observations and continue to refine, listen and learn.

– My name is Aaron Crowther. Follow me on Twitter @ascommstweeter

3 thoughts on “Emancipating your team – unleashing their potential with clever policy

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