Social media is transforming the way businesses communicate with their customers. It’s so effective that even companies you might not consider a good fit for social media strategies, such as B2B companies, are using it to effectively boost their business.
So, if you’re not already riding the social media train, you need to hop on as soon as you can. But just like any other decision you make as a business, you can’t enter the world of social media without first setting up some guidelines.
This isn’t to slow you down—guidelines and regulations are often confused as the same thing—but they’re really designed to help make sure you are clear about how and why you are going to use social media so that you can make the most of it grow your business.
Here are 5 reasons why you need clear social media guidelines:
Probably one of the most convincing reasons for devising clear social media guidelines is that it helps you clarify your strategy. Social media is, above all else, a marketing tactic. While you may use it in your personal life to chat with friends and to keep up with everything they are doing, your company’s social media accounts are strictly for business.
As such, you need to have a clear plan for how you’re going to use social media. Will you be creating your own content? Which platforms are you going to post on? How often? Who is going to do the posting?
In the beginning, when you don’t have a lot going on, this stuff might not seem so urgent, but as your following grows and things become more hectic, not having clear guidelines in place is a good way to let things get out of control quickly.
Determine how many comments you’ll respond to. Will you respond to everything? Just the negative? What’s your policy on sharing other people’s content?
Answering these questions and many others will help you hammer out your strategy so that you are a little clearer about how you plan to use social media to support your business.
This is one of the most practical reasons for having clear guidelines. By knowing exactly what your policies are concerning social media, employees will be much more capable of working autonomously.
Clear guidelines remove the need for endless verification or approval. As long as they are specific enough, all an employee needs to do is make sure they are following the guidelines and they will be able to act on their own.
It may take more time in the beginning to sit down and develop these guidelines, as there are many different situations your employees may come across. But you’ll be thankful down the line when you have a turnkey solution, especially when you welcome on new employees.
Builds in consistency
To be effective with your social media, you need to be consistent. This refers to both timing and content. If you are targeting business professionals, you’re going to want to post during lunch hours, or in the middle of the week, when people are more likely to stray from work-related tasks and engage with social content.
You’ll also want to make sure you are posting with regular frequency. Depending on your business and your strategy, it may make sense to post several times a day, or it may make more sense to only post several times a week. Either way, the most important thing is to be consistent so that your audience knows what to expect.
Setting up guidelines about when you should post will help you do just this. It helps set in stone one of the key aspects of your strategy—timing—by making it a bona fide rule.
Every company strives to be efficient. Being able to complete tasks in a more time-effective manner saves not only time but also money, and it frees you up to be able to focus on other aspects of the business.
By setting up clear guidelines for your social media strategy, you are helping do just this. Anyone who has spent some time managing a social media account knows it can consume countless hours. Between developing content, posting, responding, updating accounts and so on, you can easily lose an entire day to social media.
Now you won’t be able to completely eliminate all this time with guidelines, but they will certainly help. They will prevent people from needing to ask tons of questions to superiors, and they will also help social media managers hone in on what is considered most important for the business’ strategy.
Efficiency in processes does something else; it makes your business more valuable. And while you may not be considering selling your business right now, there’s a decent chance you may consider it sometime in the future. Being able to demonstrate to investors that your business runs efficiently in all that it does is a great way to secure a better deal when that day does come.
Lastly, while social media can be a great tool for your business, if mismanaged, it can quickly become a disaster. We’ve all heard horror stories of a business acting inappropriately on social media, and this will almost always cost them their reputation as well as some business.
Take a look at the way some of these businesses misused Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a way to promote their business. Now it’s impossible to put up enough guidelines to completely prevent this type of stuff from happening, but it is a start. Set up some guidelines about what is acceptable to post on social media and what is not.
This will help you weed out some of these less-than-desirable posts before they make it onto your feed, saving your reputation and business down the road.
You won’t be able to create guidelines for your social media strategy that solve all your problems, but they are still helpful in making your approach more structured and professional. Include employees who regularly use social media in the process of creating the guidelines so that what you come up with is as relevant as possible. And don’t be afraid to adapt them as new issues come up. Taking the time now to lay out your guidelines will help make your social media strategy more effective moving forward.
About the Author: Jock is the founder of Digital Exits, a brokerages service specializing in the buying/selling and appraisal of online businesses. He got his start in digital marketing and has spent time as a consultant helping clients develop a social media strategy. He enjoys helping other entrepreneurs find success doing business online.