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Social Media for Business – make sure you get it right

14 April 2014 | 12:30 am

13293098_mDigital marketing is moving up the agenda of many businesses as they seek better and more cost effective ways of engaging with their customers. This has also been recognised by Government as noted by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office back in November 2012 when he commented: “Digital services can be accessed whenever you want them. They are also much more efficient, saving money and the user’s time. Online transactions can be 20 times cheaper than by phone, 30 times cheaper than face-to-face and up to 50 times cheaper than by post”.  

If you have decided to increase the use of social media in your business there are some key principles to follow according to James Leavesley, CEO, of CrowdControlHQ, a social media risk management platform.

1.Appoint a project leader

Social media is the same as any other project you would undertake. It needs a champion and one who will apply project management skills to the use of social media.

2. Senior Management Support

For many managers social media is still an area of uncertainty and one that many claim they “know nothing about”. This does not mean that management should leave well alone and let the marketing team just get on with it. Senior management needs to understand the risks involved – it is never an excuse when something goes wrong to say that you knew nothing about it. If it is part of your business then it is your responsibility to understand how and when social media is being used. The inherent risks need to be acknowledged and monitored right across the organisation.

3. Involve the IT department

In order to use social media on a wide scale the IT department must be involved in the implementation, in particular with reference to security policies.

4. Include the HR department

Any organisation using social media should have policies and guidelines written into their employment contracts. This should cover not only business accounts but also personal accounts. All joiners and leavers should made fully aware of this policy and their responsibility to your business when using any form of social media.

5. Have a clearly defined strategy

All employees who are part of the social media/digital marketing team should understand the strategy behind its use. They need guidelines that are easily understood and on which ensure every employee understands the “tone of voice” that reflects the organisation, i.e. how you say something is as important as what you say in the digital world.

6. Share best practice

Anything new to a business will incur teething problems and it therefore vital that best practice in the use of social media is shared. This will ensure any problems are minimized and also that best performing content is recognized so in the long term this will improve the use of social media.

If you are using social media as a key marketing tool you will also need a social media monitoring system. This will protect you against misuse and help you make the most of the very valuable marketing channel.