Companies are constantly barraged my marketing professionals with the message that social media is social and even companies should not be pouncing on their followers, friends, and likes with nothing but sales messages. “Provide rich useful content,” they say. Yes, great idea. BUT, rich content within a company generally comes from subject matter experts (SMEs), who are sometimes as excited about social media as a trip to the dentist. On top of that, if there is an engineer or technology expert who is willing to represent the company and garner followers – what happens to the brand identity if that person builds a following and then leaves the company? It’s a puzzlement shared by most companies and organizations trying to get comfortable with how to interact on social media.
This is compounded by the fact that every social media platform has a different set of rules on how one can and must perform on their site. Every Facebook page must have a profile that owns it. Twitter simply has no way to track multiple individuals who post on a single account. LinkedIn is the most multi-user friendly, but even it can be intimidating.
So how do you, as an organization, make social media work? Until and unless social media becomes more company friendly, we suggest appointing a single point of social media management, or build a social media team. This can be within your organization or an outside resource. This central management monitors posting, so the flow of information is steady and well orchestrated. The central social media management can also help to reduce redundancy, emphasize important messages, and be sure that all areas/divisions/product lines of the company are being represented in content. This team should be well informed and understand social media thoroughly. It also helps if they have a grasp of marketing since this is not a job for an intern. It needs to be high level, strategic, and consistent.
Maybe you incentivize your SMEs to provide content to the social media team on a regular basis. Participating in the social media program may be an objective in their job description or the source of a bonus of some kind. In many cases, the SME will also receive credit – such as on a blog or a LinkedIn post which builds credibility as an industry thought leader. On tweets and some Facebook and Instagram posts, their names generally won’t be mentioned, but a single piece of interesting data can be spun into multiple posts. This not only serves to enrich your social media participation, it warms up your experts to the idea of social media without having to place huge pressure or time demands on them. We’ve noticed some SMEs become real limelight lovers in a short period of time.
Find good resources to serve as your social media management and do not overburden them with too many rules. Provide general guidelines, but to some degree, social media is spontaneous. It’s about listening and reacting. If your social media team has to have every comment approved and/or tweeted in triplicate, your social media program will bog down under the weight and your efforts will be futile.
Social media is here to stay. Every company needs to have a social media presence as much as they need a website. These guidelines give you a place to start.