I have been having lots of debates recently about the risks of not taking social media seriously.
Some businesses have embraced this medium, and have an agenda for their social media activity. Their staff have received training and have become brand ambassadors. Other companies are watching from the sidelines, thinking about it (not realising that their staff are happily using this technology without training or guidance…. risky!!)
Why do I think it’s risky to not have a policy and strategy in place for social media?
- By not having a practical social media strategy businesses risk time being spent on this (supposedly free and easy) medium, that produces results that are not measurable – does anyone post recession have time to waste on initiatives that may not return results?
- Letting staff manage their own streams, without guidance or training, will eventually water down the brand so much that the marketing department will have to work hard to get it back under control. (Just because I can find your business page on Facebook, your LinkedIn company page (and groups) and Twitter streams, you have some YouTube content, does not mean that the brand is being marketed effectively via social media)
- How are you protecting your data? What is being collected by staff (and not stored on CRMs) that is yours? By having no clearly defined rules of engagement for your business and staff, all of this online activity risks staff simply creating their own silos which you have little visibility of, even when they move on.
So, why do many businesses not have guidance, policies and strategies for social media?
- There are lots of assumptions about social media being “free and easy” – it’s not.
- Social media is seen as separate to business process (like traditional marketing activities). If you treat it as separate activity, it will not become part of the business process (like answering the phone, or sending an email), and it won’t be effective.
- Some organisations give their social media streams to youngsters, because the theory is that they are the right generation to manage them… But are they experienced in business? Do they get your brand? Do they know your business strategy? Do they know who your clients, real and potential are?
- Many businesses outsource their entire social media streams to agencies that Tweet, setup LinkedIn profiles and create Facebook pages – all well and good, and there are some fantastic companies out there that can help. But where do you draw the line??? Would you have these organisations answering the phone for you too? And attending networking events and conferences with your business cards? Agencies have a great level of expertise when it comes to the corporate, global brand, but the day to day use of social media should be left to the pros… the people that deal with your customers day in and day out – your staff!
Who’s best placed to use social media in your business?
My view is that anyone who:
- Gets the brand
- Has had training on how to not spend all day on it
- You trust to record what they are doing and not run off with your clients and candidates
But by not having a policy, guidance, training and strategy, you really do risk embarking unwittingly on an adventure which is full of rabbit holes, danger and mystery…