Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Let's Talk about *Rules on Social Media

* Rules or Guidelines really

As you are probably aware; social media has taken over! 

In the past 10 years; most businesses have a Facebook page, a blog, a Twitter account as well as presences on Instgram, Pinterest, photo sharing sites, have listed their companies on LinkedIn, have designed tabs, have mobile Apps, are in social networks and have inserted  social share buttons on all their marketing collateral.

While I don't really like using the word Rules; I have noticed that some corporations have just jumped into social media without preparing a policy, or a content strategy or have not trained their employees on how to respond to people on social media or how to handle customer service enquiries (or fails).

I also believe that we all have to tick the box to agree to each site's terms and conditions; but some of the terms and conditions are often ignored and leave a company/business without access to their account or having to deal with issues on various social networks.

So here's a list of Guidelines I use to train my clients on how to use social media wisely:

1. Set up a social media policy - here are many examples - - use these to adjust a policy for your specific workplace
2. Discuss and set up social media guidelines for your employees -
3. Use a social media crisis plan and train your staff on how to handle a mishap -
4. Decide why you are using social media in the first place - this will help with your strategy and your content - then set up a marketing/content strategy which suits your employees and workplace
5. Read each site's terms and conditions and adhere to their rules.
6. Choose your accounts - use the ones that your clients/customers/ industries are using such as Twitter, Facebook, a blog platform, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube but also look at using other sites such as photo sharing sites such as Pinterest, Flickr, Instgram  (Google for information about thousands of other sites you can use for your business)
7. Remember to start small! Each account has to be active and attended to (on a daily basis)
8. Who is going to be attending to each account? What is his/her responsibility?
9. The community manager (or person responsible) HAS to check each account at least twice a day (early mornings and evenings) to ensure that questions are answered, customer service enquiries have been attended to, inappropriate content (such as people posting pictures or spam comments) is removed AND ensure that you are engaging - i.e. thanking people for shares/ReTweets, liking a comment (on Facebook), sharing your pins, commenting or liking on Instagram or simply showing that you are present and listening to people.
10. Who makes executive decisions? If a manager/supervisor needs to confirm an action - a discussion has to take place around what to do if they are unavailable. You CANNOT leave something inappropriate on your social media account/s which could harm your brand.
11. Monitoring the account/s also has to take place over the weekends - who is responsible for weekend and after hours monitoring?

Now let's talk content:

1. Use your company site/blog to promote, share and spread user generated content directly from your brand.
2. Are you going to hire a copywriter or is there someone in-house who is prepared to write blog posts, updates, Tweets and source images, videos etc.?
3. Are you finding content from elsewhere and using it as inspiration? If yes, you HAVE to source links back to the original content.
4. Are you using images with your content (which is highly recommended)? Ensure that you link back to the original source or name the source (e.g source:CarrotCreative)
5. Prior to sharing any information online, check the link (on a laptop preferably to ensure that all the other content on the site itself is trustworthy)
6. Only share, link to and use links which are from trusted sources. Ensure that there is no inappropriate subject matter or adverts on the links you are sharing - generally when people click to open a link, they may view other content on the site - so check, check, check!
7. When ReTweeting information on Twitter - check the bio/profile, the Tweets, the name of the person whose links, quotes or information you're sharing with your followers BEFORE driving content. I cannot stress how vital it is to check, check, check! (The same goes for Pinterest AND Instagram)
8. Check that the sites/videos/images are secure and safe - I use Wot - to check user ratings as well as Norton 360 and McAfee secure search for this purpose. 
9. Build trust with your followers/fans/peers when using, finding, promoting, sharing or driving content - the content you use is affiliated with your brand (So I repeat check, check, check!) The only way to build trust is by being active on social media accounts and building relationships with people.
10. Seek advice. Ask for help.
Enquire about training - this will benefit yourself, your brand and your employees. (We are all learning here, even me!)

And finally social media etiquette:

1. Google before you Tweet, post, blog or share. Check your resources and try to find the original source of any content you use - this will help you build trust with your peers.
2. Be nice - and if you can't than go for a walk, grab a cup of coffee, drink a glass of water - rather than responding inappropriately.
3. If you do not agree with something and you really want to Tweet, post or blog your viewpoint - think very carefully - is it necessary? Will it change anything? If you believe it will than disagree respectfully without launching a personal attack.
4. Be diplomatic. You don't have to agree with everything, like everything, choose to share everything - but build diplomatic relationships with others anyway.
5. Try not to constantly ask others to follow you, like you, ReTweet you, share your content - build a relationship and trust with your peers/fans/followers to build an organic sharing relationship instead (which takes time and effort)
6. Shout out, compliment, acknowledge good practices you see online and share people's pages, accounts and boards with others (if they provide value to you; they will provide value to your fans and followers as well!) - I am a huge fan of social good and this type of behaviour will make your day so much nicer!
7. Try not to constantly talk about your brand/business on your Facebook business page or Twitter account - use those sites to engage with others and exchange information. People love resources, tools, tips, case studies, guides etc. - share yours with them!
8. Use your business blog to inform, educate and talk about your business. Try to respond to comments and find other blogs in your industry to build relationship with other Bloggers. And attend a Blogging event (or any type of networking event) - they're fun and you will learn a lot!
9. Be kind. Answer queries, respond to comments, find answers and share information. When you see an opportunity to help someone else - take the chance!
10. Read everything you can; blog posts, news, updates, Tweets, case studies, surveys, white papers, eBooks, newsletters, manuals - the more you read - the more inspiration you will have to generate your own content.Here are some tips to finding content for your business -
11. Make use of visual content. Pinterest boards are a great way to access infographics, blog posts, tools and tips you can share across your social media profiles (just remember to check the links) and Instagram is also a great way to build a more personal connection with your clients (customers) - check EVERYTHING very carefully on Instagram.
12. Before you select a hashtag - check the hashtag carefully (by clicking on it and see where it leads) - make use of for hashtag search.

And lastly - Make your Own Path!

Because social media is global and embraces each unique individual; you can decide how you are going to use social media to represent yourself/your brand. You can be formal, chatty, a curator of information, a helpful sharer, a promoter of social media good, a brilliant sales person, a quiet observer, an industrious entrepreneur - there is no better set of tools to finding your own path as long as you are learning and having a bit of fun along the way.

 “Be authentic and organic. It can’t be forced or it won’t work. And most importantly, have fun.” - Richard Branson on social media

It is called social media - because it is encouraging people to embrace integrating business practices socially.

Where else really can you chat with your fans/followers, share ideas, information and resources while 'meeting' hundreds of people? (If someone knows the answer to this - feel free to tell me!)

However I am going to go back to the Rules and Guidelines - by adhering to each site/platform's rules and conditions you will build an online presence but more importantly you will build trust among your peers.
Each site should have a list of guidelines, terms and conditions or policies on a page - have a read through all of them!


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