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Monday, 31 October 2011

Here's a really informative guide on Twitter. This 32-page e book is full of useful insights and tools to help you get started. Happy tweeting!
Twitter Business Guide

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Do you need a social media policy?

Let’s try to understand what constitutes a progressive social media strategy. The basic idea that social media marketers want to base their strategy around is direct and personalised engagement with the consumer and there is no dearth of effort from companies in trying to explore ways to use social media for marketing.
However, forming a concrete plan for a business by bringing together various aspects of social involves proper resource allocation, constant involvement, making use of analytical tools to monitor progress, loads of patience, and effective social guidelines and rules of engagement for employees. In a way, social media demands virtues such as patience, openness and transparency.
However, often in the hype around social media strategists can easily overlook some important areas. Internal social media education within organisations is one such aspect that often gets ignored resulting in social media setbacks.
Employees though their interactions on social networks can leave a trail of comments, threads which can nullify the positive impact of the efforts of social media team of the organisation. While organisations cannot and should not force employees to abstain from discussing their work life on such platforms, it is still important for the employees to be aware of the potential damage their actions on social networking sites can cause their organisation.  
Training and educational programs on the topic will help the employees understand the importance of social media integration and adoption, even if they are not directly involved in the organisation’s social media plans. As a social media consultant cannot apply a one size fits all strategy to businesses, he also cannot have a common education for all the employees. There needs to be a marked segregation of people based on their profiles and interests. Employees in an organisation can be broadly divided into these categories:

Strategists are responsible for the overall social strategies and how they impact the medium to long term business objectives of the company. Their training should focus more on planning and goal setting. Since the role of strategists is to provide direction, it is important they communicate effectively with the rest of the team. A personalised and transparent approach in dealing with other employees can go a long way in developing effective social practices within an organisation. An updated LinkedIn profile, a personal blog and regular interaction with employees will help this group engage better with both internal and external stakeholders. 

Managers are responsible for the day to day implementation of these strategies. Not only should this group fully understand the company’s social media policy and monitoring tools, they must also remain up-to-date with the latest technologies. As this group is directly responsible for the deployment of social media programs, ongoing training and participation in workshops and conferences is important. Regular interaction with specialists as well as fellow employees should also be encouraged as often the collective wisdom of a team far exceeds that of any individual.

This group of employees is involved in direct interaction with customers, therefore it is imperative that they have a clear direction about their role. This group should fully understand the social media guidelines set by the company which will help them interact more confidently with customers. They should also have a reliable point of contact for their queries. Further they should be able to prioritise customer complaints with little or no supervision.  Again regular interaction with their managers will provide them a sense of direction and help them promote the organisation more effectively.

This group may not be directly involved with the implementation of social media plans of an organisation, but they may be impacted by the outcome of those plans. It’s important that even these employees are part of a practical training on the benefits of social and how to engage on social media platforms. This understanding will also help them understand the importance of behaving more responsibly on social networking websites.

Basic social media training
Needless to say that social media does have cascading effects though an organisation. Information sessions on the benefits and risks involved with social media can prove to be extremely helpful for employees.  Regular interaction between management and other employees also helps in identifying areas where further training can help.
A short mandatory training session as part of an employee induction program is a good idea. The core social components of this program will depend on the organisations to which they are applied. Broadly speaking, some of the areas which could be covered in a basic social media training program are:

·            A brief introduction on social media, and the business case for involvement
·           Social media goals of the organisation
·           Social media engagement guidelines and the potential risks involved
·           Clearly defined social media roles in an organisation
·           Effective measurement and monitoring practices, including data gathering and benchmarking
·           Feedback mechanism and sharing of best practices

It’s important to remember that social strategy is fluid. It requires constant monitoring and changes in strategy. Employees should be encouraged to attend regular conferences and webinars. Regular sessions with internal and external specialists should also be encouraged.

A good internal social media strategy boils down to ensuring that the basic things are done right. Overall, the emphasis should be on bringing in a more open and transparent culture which encourages participation from everyone. Remember that the most important aspect of social media is engagement and that is unlikely to change. The best way to do social is by being social.