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Does Your Small Business Need a Social Media Policy?

10/18/2012
Chances are good that, if you are reading this post and checking out this marketing section of our blog, you are using, or interested in using, social media in your marketing efforts. 77 percent of small businesses include social media in their overall marketing plans and nearly half of those companies don’t have a social media policy. Should yours? Here’s my short answer … Absolutely! No matter the size of your organization, if you and your team are involved in any social media at all, you should have guidelines in the form of an official policy.
 
Why? You are interacting with your customers through social media and this communication, like your business, needs to be of the highest quality. It’s an extension of your brand and should be treated as such. Would you send out a marketing piece with typos, slang, and low-resolution photos? No way. You have rules around that so you should have rules around how you engage in social media. Relax, a “policy” doesn’t have to be a dictatorship! You can even create your guidelines in a collaborative team approach to increase buy-in from all employees.
 
So, what should you include in your social media policy? Here are my top 8 tips.
 
1. Keep the customer in mind. The most important part of your social media policy should focus on customer engagement. How do you want your company to interact with your customers and what do you NOT want them to do.
 
2. Keep confidential and proprietary information quiet. While this may seem common sense to us, it may not to others. Clearly state this in your social media policy to deter employees from that momentary lapse in judgement when they spill your secrets via Twitter.
 
3. Keep it real. Don’t micromanage social media usage so much that your employees can’t use their own name and information. Encourage them to be themselves but remind them that they represent the company, even on their personal accounts.
 
4. Keep it positive. Instead of focusing on what your employees can’t do in terms of social media, remind them what they can do and the why, which is what is important.
 
5. Keep it transparent. Transparency in social media is important so that your customers are able to relate well to you and see all sides of your business. In this transparency though, you need to embrace both positive and negative feedback. Outline how your team should respond to negative remarks and posts and be clear that they should never engage in trash talking.
 
6. Keep it valuable. Social media interaction should be valuable to your company, and to your followers. Make sure your team knows that they should provide useful information, not post or tweet just because they have to send X number per week.
 
7. Keep it current. As social media venues change and evolve, so should your social media policy.
 
8. Keep your consequences clear. Very clearly define the consequences for not abiding by your business’s social media policy so that everyone is well aware of what could happen if they stray.
 
Does your business have a social media policy? Why or why not?
 
Contact Realware today and ask about services that can grow your business using the Internet.

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