Many clients and companies find themselves in a difficult situation when it comes to social media. Our clients have been asking us where do they draw the line between getting everyone involved in achieving social media goals and yet control the brand. With messages concerning your company both ad hoc yet lightening quick spewing from social media, how do you keep up? How do you keep your message consistent and on brand? How fast is fast enough? How do you contain a train wreck? It’s enough to make companies shy away from social media, yet we all must engage with our customers as no message is a message and an unflattering one at that.
Each company has taken different a different approach to this dilemma. Some have given complete control to a group within marketing while others have told their organization to “tweet” away. The one common theme for the most successful companies is that they arm their employees and organization with guidelines and polices to assist them in the task of promotion and communication.
We, at Aquent, are a case in point. You may have noticed that our blog has changed significantly a few months ago. Not only does our blog look different, but we are also trying to improve our collective voice as a blog while staying on brand. Our blog started out with an open door policy to any staffer with no restrictions or guidelines on content. They could post on anything. That’s right. No restrictions or guidelines on content. Same went for the behind-the scenes housekeeping: tags, categories, alt text for images, trackbacks, images, and links. Our staffers are a talented bunch but our message was off topic at times to say the least. And more importantly, our traffic suffered because of the chaos. Our blog is, after all, supposed to DO something.
We are not an uptight organization and, as a medium sized entrepreneurial company, it was sufficient to just get the word out. Let’s stay on task people! Let’s create content that our clients and talent want to read about from our perspective, a talent agency for marketers and designers. And let’s crank up the traffic. Is it working? Yes, but it is also something that we have to work on daily with each post we write.
What about you and your company be it just a few of you or a large marketing department? Your first step to attacking these issues is to come up with a plan that works for you and your organization. There is no sense in reinventing the wheel. Since all companies have or will have to grapple with this, learn from them.
Oracle’s Social Media Policy, for example, is short, to the point, and fits on a single blog page:
- Follow the Code
- Protect Confidential Information
- Don’t Comment on M&A Activity
- Don’t Discuss Future Offerings
- Refrain from Objectionable or Inflammatory Posts
- Don’t Speak for Oracle
- Don’t Post Anonymously
- Respect Copyrights
- Use Video Responsibly
- Stick to Oracle Topics on Oracle-Sponsored Blogs
- Don’t Misuse Oracle Resources
GM simply follows Charlene Li from Forrester’s policies originally from the Forrester Best Practices report, Blogging: Bubble Or Big Deal: When And How Businesses Should Use Blogs, available for $499.
Here is a list of 160 social media policies from companies (some very large at that) and organizations. We, at Aquent, will be referring to this list when we finally get around to documenting our policies!