to Reach Your Customer
The new frontier of Web 2.0 is not just about informing your
customers; it’s about communicating with them. Today’s Web 2.0
tools, such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the many
other social media options, are all about customer engagement.
When you send your prospects or clients an email, a mailer,
or a newsletter, or when you place a TV, radio, or print ad, you’re
informing your readers about something. Those are information age
tools that still have a purpose. However, social media is about the
communication age. You’re attempting to creating a dialogue, trying
to get engagement, and hoping to elicit a response. So it’s not just
about talking; it’s about listening. Ultimately, social media is not
about the media. It’s about the social – about trying to get people
talking about something important to them and to your business.
What’s Your Focus?
to make the best business use of social media, your organization
needs to pinpoint the specific message you want to put out so that
all employees have a guide to follow – so they know what direction
their messages should take and how they should focus their posts. In
other words, is your company’s focus to increase customer service?
To enhance awareness of your products or services? To boost your
brand recognition? Each of these things would have a different
consistent message for your employees to focus on.
For example, one insurance company uses Twitter and Facebook
to let people know all the philanthropic things they are doing for
the community. All the posts are about events they’re sponsoring and
contributions they’re making. Employees know that they should post
information about personal things they’re doing for the community,
such as volunteering at the local animal shelter or helping out with
Habitat for Humanity. With a clear guideline that the social media
effort is to increase philanthropic awareness, it’s easy for
employees to know the kinds of things they should be doing on social
media sites. They have a clear focus and a unified purpose.
Another company in the retail industry uses social media to
improve customer service. All their posts highlight things they’re
doing internally to improve the customer experience, what they’re
doing online to make shopping easier, and how they’re handling phone
inquiries to deliver a memorable shopping experience. They also
regularly ask customers how they’d like the company to improve
customer service. With that as the key message, all the company’s
employees are focused on problem solving and on making the customers
Therefore, a good social media strategy and employee
guidelines are far more than a list of good and bad words or topics.
Instead, they need to focus on the core message your company wants
to portray and then determine the best ways to spread that core
message. That’s why upper management needs to take the time to
determine the core message and share it with all employees.
Creating social media guidelines for your company does not
have to be difficult. Once you get clear on the core message you
want to send out and the dialogue you want them to engage with, use
the following tips to create guidelines that your staff can use to
shape their posts around the strategy. (Note: the following
suggestions are general in nature. Please adhere to your state’s HR
laws and seek legal counsel as needed.)
employees should use their posts to build a reputation of trust
among clients, media, and the public. When they are reaching out
to others on social media sites, they should take every
opportunity to build a reputation of trust and to establish
themselves as a credible and transparent representative of the
When participating in any online community, your employees
should disclose their identity and affiliation with the
organization, clients, and professional and/or personal
interest. When posting to a blog, they should always use their
real name, not an alias.
When creating posts and content, your employees should be
direct, informative, and brief. They should never use a client’s
name in a posting unless they have written permission to do so.
If your employees post copyrighted materials, they should
identify the original source. This includes sources for direct
or paraphrased quotes, photos, videos, and anything else they
did not originally create.
Your employees should always evaluate their posting’s accuracy
and truthfulness. Before posting any online material, they need
to ensure that the material is accurate, truthful, and without
factual error. This includes doing a spell and grammar check on
everything. Remember, content never disappears entirely once
it’s been posted. Should your employees find an error, have them
correct it promptly. Since transparency is key, have them admit
the mistake, apologize if necessary, correct it, and then and
Make sure employees know that they are responsible for what they
post. Negative or questionable posts will not be tolerated.
Additionally, while what they do on their own personal pages
during personal time is their business, what they publish on
those sites should not be attributed to the company and should
not appear as endorsements from the company. If they choose to
list their employer on a personal social network, then they must
regard all communication on that network as they would in a
professional network. Online lives are ultimately linked.
When posting comments, employees should refrain from writing
about controversial or potentially inflammatory subjects,
including politics, sex, religion or any other non-business
related subjects. The tone of their comments should be
respectful and informative, never condescending or “loud.”
Additionally, they should avoid personal attacks, online fights,
and hostile communications. If a blogger or any other online
influencer posts a statement with which your company disagrees,
your employees can voice their opinion, but not escalate the
conversation to a heated argument. Instruct them on how to write
reasonably, factually, and with good humor.
Employees should never disclose proprietary or confidential
information. This includes product releases, service updates,
and employee information not made public yet.
Obey the rules.
All employees should follow local, state, or federal laws and
regulations; the company’s internal rules (typically found in
the employee handbook); as well as the rules established by each
social networking venue. Ultimately their online activities will
be a reflection on the company.
Propel Your Message Forward:
Today’s Web 2.0 tools are great for business building, provided that
your employees know how to use them for the company’s ultimate
benefit. Therefore, determine why your company is using social media
sites, and then let that purpose be known throughout the entire
organization. Additionally, implement clear social media guidelines
that employees can follow, and you’ll have the people, processes,
and tools you need to further your company’s mission. Ultimately,
when employees know how they are supposed to use today’s Web 2.0
tools, they can do so with focus and purpose, leading the
organization confidently into the communication age.
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