5 myths of building a social media policy

Social Media Toolkit and Management

The words ‘social media’ still strikes fear and confusion in the hearts of most corporate communication teams.  The result of this fear is a knee jerk reaction by corporate executives.  From our direct experience of these challenges, we have captured five of the most common recurring myths that can create damaging or wasteful projects inside large companies.  Find out what they are and what you can do about it.

1) We need a social media Manager

The usual corporate reflex when facing the question what should we do about social media is often to consider first hiring a social media manager.  This person is expected to be an expert who will interview different business teams to understand their social media needs and design a dedicated solution to go on social media.

While you might need this role to manage your on-going activity, you should first make sure that the social media strategy is fully integrated into the communication and brand strategy (also read Mission possible: 7 steps to building an effecting online strategy). Social media channels should follow the corporate communication story line. In most cases, social media is still seen as a completely isolated activity – this is not just counter productive, but it can lead to damaging and confusing communication.

2) We need social media guidelines

It is important to see social media guidelines as one piece of the puzzle and keep the global picture in mind since this is the only approach that brings coherence, return on investment and efficiency to social media management.

In our experience a company should not not start the process from guidelines but from a social media toolkit, driectly derived from a communication strategy. The objective of the social media toolkit is to promote responsible online engagement that creates value for individuals and the company’s brand. The objective is to make the most of social media by explaining why and how social media will bring value. A tool kit should guide social media-active colleagues on how to engage to create visibility and deliver a strong, personalised but still integrated story. The guide will inspire engagement in a responsible, knowledgeable and managed manner rather than simply limiting employee communication activity. Last but not least, build the toolkit using a social media format – video, webinar, web-based. Using pdf or paper is pretty ironic if you think about it. And it will be least accessible when people need it most.

3) Social media is the responsibility of a few authorized people only, preferably from the Comms team

The idea of the one spokesperson representing the whole company does not make sense on social media. Social media is about one-to-one communication; the ultimate channel where you can meet the one person out of many in the company who is sharing the one expertise you are looking for. Moreover your social media audience is not only expecting to meet the right person with the facts, it also expects to have a human exchange.  When it comes to social media, the role of the communication team is not to drive the communication activities but to guide, educate and support all interested employees on how to engage – which they will do anyway, whether you like or not through facebook, LinkedIn and other private social media channels. Read more about story telling and unmasking the messenger

4) Let’s limit the number of social media channels so we make sure we control it

We have seen several companies restricting the use of social media to one channel per social media platform. One Youtube channel, one Facebook page, one Twitter account etc. It very often comes from a need to control what happening out there, the need to make sure the few people that “know” how to communicate.

While your global organization tries to address different audiences with tailored made section for investors, job seekers, press, clients, patients and policy makers on its website, why would you make a one twitter account for all? Especially since the audience’s expectations is to find segmented or specialized information. They don’t want to subscribe to a feed which includes information for job seekers, investors or policy makers. The one-channel-fits-all is just a reflex to try to control something that cannot be controlled and is anything but the right approach on social media.

5) Going on social media means increases the risk of a communication crisis

The reality is in fact the exact opposite. Not being on social media puts you at risk of an attack with no means to react. Volkswagen is currently the victim of this lack of initial investment on social media. After a fantastic marketing campaign using TV advertising, the remaining legacy is an organically growing rebellion against VW lead by GreenPeace, who has destroyed the green equity of this brand for years to come. (see the full story: Greenpeace strikes back at Volkswagen)

Ok, but how to make the most of social media then?

Social media is a learning curve for everybody including eCommunciation professionals like us. The 5 myths are the result of our firsthand observation of the corporate world. Because of this learning we have developed an expertise in using social media as  part of the communication strategy and integrated across all communication activities. There is a methodology to make the most of social media or at least to get close to it very quickly. To help you get started, here are 5 steps you can apply to putting together a social media strategy.

  1. Start from your communication strategy and the storyline(s) of the company and keep coming to this – how does what we propose fit and how will it help the telling our story.
  2. Use the corporate website as the hub of you communication and consider social media as a channel among others
  3. Empower your people and educate them to go online and spread their personal message as part of the company story, we call that the Digital Reporter and have a specific training at ZN.
  4. Promote – and don’t try to control – the use of social media with training, online communities an webinars
  5. Monitor, coach and support your social media ambassadors so that you can apply pre-defined tactics to various scenarios that might occur.

And watch this space…

Have you had interesting experiences with the use of social media in your organisation?  What worked for you? No idea where to start, contact us if you want help putting together a social media strategy that is really integrated in your communications

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