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How to Get the Most from Social Media

Doyle: “(Organizations) face difficulties in establishing effective policies and procedures that ensure that employees are sending the right messages out there.”

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Organizations are still struggling with social media: They realize it’s great for customer connectivity/response and brand recognition/loyalty. But they face difficulties in establishing effective policies and procedures that ensure that employees are sending the right messages out there.

For evidence, look no further than the world of sports. Well before the opening ceremonies, AP reported that the 2012 London Olympic Games would be billed as the “Socialympics” — the most tweeted, “liked” and tagged ever. Indeed, AP predicted that some athletes may spend more time on social media than on the field.

So consider the backlash when Olympic athletes were expelled from the games due to inappropriate, racist Twitter comments. Meanwhile, the NFL and its associate teams have made abundant use of social media. Players do too, appreciating the direct connection with fans that these sites allow. But that didn’t stop Cincinnati Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis from banning his players from using Twitter during training camp.

As in sports, businesses are learning that they must strike a delicate balance. They have to encourage employee use of social-media platforms. But they can’t give them free reign either.

So what do you do? In reading up on the subject, I’ve come across the following two best practices:

Self-diagnosis. Organizations should first give themselves a comprehensive social media evaluation, then develop a formal social media strategy that aligns with business objectives, according to SearchContentManagement. The strategy must cover information management, risk, compliance and liability. In that critical first step of evaluation, companies must base criteria upon reality – not a generic template.

Class in session. Training employees on how to successfully and appropriately use social media remains essential, according to PCWorld. The formal, social-media policies must determine the direction of the training, and employees/managers should practice using “what if” scenarios. If there are any “gray areas,” a thorough training program should establish clarity of action/response.

While organizations shouldn’t fear social media to the point of eliminating it, they can’t unleash chaos either. When you think about it, there’s very little difference between this and incorporating a strong customer-relations policy for your service hotlines. Both involve a conversation, and that conversation must satisfy consumer inquiries/comments while staying within appropriate business boundaries.

When proper evaluation, planning, strategies and training are put in place, companies can embrace these platforms with minimal trepidation and benefit from all the business value they can bring.

@MollyWComm

Molly Doyle is a senior account coordinator at W2 Communications.

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