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The six must-haves of social media: Part 2

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In my previous post—The six must-haves of social media: Part I—I outlined three things that every company needs to consider in order to do social media well: Open leadership, establishing intent and building a sound companywide social media policy. In this post, I want to dive into the last three things you need to succeed. Here are the additional things to consider:

Educate and they shall rule with information. With policy and guidelines come education. Every company that is looking to invest in social media should invest in the people first through ongoing education. Before you send your troops into battle, you must first show them how to use a rifle. The same goes for social media. Arm your troops with critical information on do’s and don’ts/best practices, so they know what’s appropriate and what they can say or not say in the social world. Best practices should also guide your employees on how to connect with their ecosystem to become thought leaders and brand ambassadors.

Create an education program to help avoid putting your company at risk. Today, information travels fast. One mistake and it can hit thousands of people and you’ve lost control. Only through diligent education can you help avoid these disastrous events.

Alignment across the enterprise. Here, we want to emphasize why alignment is crucial. By establishing alignment across your organization you can truly make social media scalable and help extend the reach of your voice and message as well as measure the impact. Your company may have a great culture with a lot of great stories to tell. But you may want to use the social Web to get product feedback or provide customer service. One person or department cannot and should not manage it all.

Further, your authenticity becomes muddied when you try to have your marketing person answer specific questions about products. Through alignment and education you can truly optimize, broaden the reach and scale while being true to your community. 

To make the shift and do social media well, establish a culture of commitment, policy and guidelines that support the intent and strategy. Further, focus on building alignment across the enterprise, foster a culture that empowers the troops, educate them and enable them to successfully rule the social Web with information.

Social media crisis response. While most companies may understand the value of social media, real-world cases have shown us that transparency, engagement, communication and open dialogue come with a price. Before they jump on the social media bandwagon, companies must first look internally and assess the pros/cons of social media and adopt a social media crisis management policy. Remember: Both good and bad news can travel at lightning speed. Today, a lot of companies have not only a sound policy in place but also a triage plan. Traditional rapid response is no longer relevant. Today, it’s about bringing the "now" into everything you do, and rapid response should be a big part of your social media strategy.

Further, companies also need to incorporate a crisis management policy that demonstrates the key steps in case a crisis should occur. We call this a social media response plan. This should entail your company’s plans step by step from gathering information to when and how company representatives should respond. Your alignment plan should also include ways to educate and communicate what your rapid response plan is and how each owner will help address crises as they occur.

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