Social media is all around us, and if you're using it for business (and you should be), there is one simple word to remember: listen. Pay attention to what customers are saying about you and your company. Social channels allow you to gain insight into what people really want and expect from your business. It's the place to curb your sales pitch and exercise your rapport-building skills, so you can eventually take your interactions out of the virtual world and into the real one.
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone without some sort of online presence these days, but unfortunately, many people use social media to rant, vent and release whatever ails them. Make sure your employees aren't fussing about or negatively portraying your brand on their personal accounts. Take care of your company's reputation by creating a social media policy that sets boundaries for employees.
At this point, it's unthinkable that any small business would not have a social media presence. Even the CIA has a Twitter account. Social media connects people to your business and builds brand awareness. When social media efforts go awry, the consequences can be mild or extreme, such as forcing a company to close doors because reputation damage was so severe.
This is why every small business owner should create a cohesive social media policy, one that sets boundaries for who can do what and when with their social media channels.
The policy can be different for each business. A plumbing company may allow employees to post their weekend activities while wearing the company t-shirts. On the other hand a doctor's office, should designate a team or manager due to HIPPA requirements.
As a general policy it's best to put specific people or an agency in charge of the company's social media and responsible for all posts. This will control content. An almost hidden factor in social media posts is the time consumed. If you are allowing employees to post or doing it yourself, there is a cost factor which can be far more than those associated with a service provider. Moreover, the disgruntled employee can do a lot of damage to coworkers and your company if posts are derogatory.
I believe that establishing a comprehensive social media policy is just a best practice for every business. It's a good idea to think of this as reputation management, the online world never stops.
Join us next month for a review of some of the itmes you might want to include in your social media policy statement.
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