Is there any business or organization left that isn't somehow impacted by social media? From corporate communications to customer care, from promotional campaigns to employee input, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube and their counterparts cut across the whole spectrum of business activities. And while it's pretty hard to compete these days without being on one of these platforms, at the same time you could be missing out on some great opportunities as well. At the same time, a company without a documented social media policy could be opening themselves up to unknown risks.
Now of course, businesses have many different priorities. Bringing revenue in today is always more pressing than implementing any sort of policy - let alone one on social media. Experience also suggests that positive business impact from social networking often builds over time, rather than being immediate - which makes prioritizing developing a formal policy around who can do what and who's responsible for what even that much lower on the list.
But the same can be said of quality assurance, for example. And to paraphrase quality guru W. Edwards Deming, quality and social media policies are not compulsory, but then neither is survival. To evaluate the priority of a company social media policy for your business, consider the following aspects.
We all know that social networks provide an additional channel for building a brand image that includes viral marketing potential. But the real benefit comes after first defining clear company objectives and creating suitable content. You want your audience to identify with and be enthused about what you have to say, not be turned off by empty social chitchat. Who cares what you served for lunch today? What's more important is the message you're communicating about your culture and what sets your company apart from your competitors.
We also all know that hiring the right people is WAY too much of a challenge. The most suitable candidates may not be actively looking for a new position. However, odds are they're using social media. Mentioning career openings as part of your company social media content is one way to get in front of more potential talent. And so is showcasing your company culture. With social media, the veil has been lifted. Nothing is private anymore. Great candidates want to know what the experience will be like working for you more than simply the benefits you offer.
Internal Social Networking
Social media can boost collaboration, productivity, and innovation within a distributor. Standalone software applications allow enterprises to run their own internal social networks for these advantages, while avoiding unwanted leaks of company-specific discussions into public social media spaces.
Some comments or complaints never really reach you via conventional channels. However, your clients and customers may be considerably more vocal about their opinions when using social media. If you know what the problem is, you have a chance to fix it, reduce churn, and build a more loyal reseller base long before it goes viral.
Fire, floods, internal systems failure, and massive vendor product recalls can hit any business. Social networks offer a communication channel that is permanently open, easy to use and accessible by all of your business partners. No matter what catastrophe you’re coping with in-house, you can use public social media to help set expectations, instead of leaving your market in the dark.
When it comes to any organization, social media tweets, comments, and photos should be governed by guidelines setup in your Acceptable Use Policy. Make it concise, clear and known to all employees. Remember that your company is responsible for anyone on your payroll tweeting or commenting in a business role. So make sure there are clear guidelines set BEFORE the perverbial cow's out of the barn. And set the example by showing how you, yourself use it for business matters.
Social networks have become too pervasive to be ignored. A company social media policy, however basic, is without a doubt a necessary item - if only to ensure acceptable use by employees and suitable responses to market feedback on your enterprise.
You can then leverage the work you do on your social media policy for more robust management of emergency situations. And from there it may only be a short step to starting to proactively derive further business benefits.
How much success have you had in using social networks – external or internal – for business benefit? How do you go about managing what's acceptable to say on your accounts? What do you think? Let us know your thoughts or experiences in the Comment box below or shoot me an email if you’d like to chat about this in more detail.