Social Media Policy & Converting Influence into Action

Many organisations underestimate the value of a social connection with your customer and often go head first, without an effective plan in place. So what should a social plan look like when everything comes together? In a recent report by Awareness, titled “Social Commerce Lessons. The 6 Social Principles that Increase Sales”,(PDF) it discusses some interesting facts around social media including:

  • Social Media activities – like sharing and recommendations – drive sales
  • 90% of all purchase are subject to social influence
  • 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know
  • 67% spend more online after seeing recommendations

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The report also discusses that social connection increases the likelihood of a fan to purchase by as much as 51%. Which brings the point that adding sharing features to a product can increase the spread of awareness by 346% with ‘Likes’ and 98% with ‘Send to a Friend’”.

Many organisations have advocated that the above works; including American Eagle who reported their “Like” Button brought them customers that bought 57% more on average than non-Facebook referrals.

There are many great potential benefits to social media, but equally as many negatives – if not more – which organisations need to stay current on. The issue that many companies often forget about is the potential damage to corporate reputation, the potential release of commercially sensitive information (intellectual property, early disclosure of products) and the complications of unauthorised release of consumer information along with other legal considerations.

The main one for many organisations appears to be more basic, and how to overcome and adapt to the paradigm shifts in social conversation from formal to interactive. It’s hard to hide or lie in a social environment, harder given that there is enormous transparency in the social world, and customers’ communication to each other can spread globally within minutes.

There are a few international and closer to home examples of social media planning and policy going wrong, including public servants pay being docked by 5% over a 12 month period over Facebook comments that they made out of office, and out of work time. Is this right? The tough thing for a lot of organisations is how to manage challenges like these? A social media policy doesn’t hold all the answers, but it’s a good start because it helps to reduce the risk of your organisation engaging in unwarranted social media, it guides employees and allows them to use social media in an empowered way.

ADMA stress that a Social Media Policy should not be done in isolation, and should be part of a broader communications strategy, incorporating organisational values and governance. Companies need to redefine premises under which accompany operates in terms of confidentiality, privacy and openness, transparency and information policies. A great way to keep staff up to speed is ensure they have the appropriate training and social media tool kits.

Key issues to consider - Social media policy

  • Personal use of social media during work hours
  • How should employees reference the company in a personal and professional capacity?
  • How issues should be escalated and to whom?
  • What business based content can employees share in social media platforms. If talking about the company how to employees represent themselves as an employee?
  • Who is responsible for the social media policy?
  • Will the CEO send out the social media policy?
  • Tone of voice
  • Response times

Key legal considerations

  • Defamation
  • Fair trading
  • Privacy
  • Copyright, Trademarks and Intellectual
  • Property (Patents and Designs)

When engaging in a social environment, the best thing to remember is that companies should act with integrity at ALL times, and need to be mindful of 3 key elements when thinking about SM policy:

1. Respect

  • Act with integrity at all times
  • Comply with company’s code of conduct and other policies
  • Be accurate, be fair, be thorough
  • Treat people as you would like to be treated
  • No discriminatory comments
  • Encourage constructive criticism
  • Be cordial, honest and professional at all times
  • Respect other’s rights to different points of view
  • Avoid sensitive subjects (politics, religion)

2. Excellence

  • What you post on the web will be there forever and reflects on you as an individual and on the organisation
  • Always try to add value by providing worthwhile information and new perspectives
  • If in doubt about a blog or comment don’t post it until you are happy with it

3. Responsibility

  • Employees are personally responsible for the content that they publish online and can   be personally liable for any posts
  • Read and understand the terms of a social media platform before you use it
  • Be mindful of what you publish, specify if you are or are not speaking on behalf of the company
  • Comply with the privacy policy of your organisation
  • Post a link to your company’s privacy policy on your organisations’ social media profiles
  • Implement additional safeguards if you are interacting with minors.

This article was inspired by the ADMA presentation: Social Media Policy: Converting Influence into Action. (PDF) 

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To find out more about using social media effectively in your business, enrol in one of ADMA’s Social Media Short Courses run by ADMA.