It’s no surprise that social media can help your company grow, and startups especially can leverage social media to accelerate their success from a young company age.
Research has shown that nearly 61 percent of startups implement social media marketing strategies, largely thanks to its low-cost nature. Even further, those startups identified customer acquisition and customer retention as main results from their social media efforts, meaning there is a direct impact on the company’s bottom line through social.
From your company’s early days, your employees can be your most loyal social following, helping to aid in your social success through their own authentic posts.
The problem, though, is that too many companies simply assume that their employees know what is/is not acceptable on social media, and the companies neglect to create any written rules or procedures for team members to follow.
Even if your team is full of tech-savvy digital natives, you cannot assume that everyone is familiar with all the social bells and whistles, or what you want them to do on social—you need to provide guardrails, in the form of social media guidelines, for them to follow when engaging in brand-related matters on social.
Why Your Team Needs Social Guidelines: An Example of What Not to Do
A quick disclaimer on your guides: you want to encourage your team to engage on social media without them feeling like they have to avoid a multitude of “Don’ts”, or that they risk ridicule for a misguided post.
At one company I worked for, there were no social media guidelines in place. It was a common open floor office concept, and the CEO would often walk up to individuals in the office demanding that they delete social posts he didn’t like. Not only is this sort of incident an awkward exchange for everyone in the office, but it promotes a culture of fear, which causes many employees to avoid posting anything about the company on social media.
That’s a major loss and the worst way to approach social media. Social media guidelines help to avoid this.
What to Include in Social Media Guidelines
Your social media guidelines can be as long or as short as you’d like—just ensure that they are user-friendly and written in a way that anyone can understand. You may even consider creating one-pagers for specific launches or campaigns to distill the main points for your team.
Some essential elements to consider:
- Your brand purpose on social media, and your goals for any platforms your company is active on. This is a bare essential for your social media guidelines because it lets your team know what your company is trying to achieve on each platform. This post can help you define your goals and explains how employee brand advocates help reach these goals.
- Your company style guide. Especially in your early days, you want to have employees name your products or offerings correctly, and be sure to call out any trademark needs. The style guide can also define your brand personality and any language considerations that support that.
- A shared brand asset folder. Have a central folder that anyone can access to locate company logos, branded profile headers for social sites, how-tos and shared FAQs, etc. By storing everything in one place, you reduce the likelihood that your team will veer away from your brand guidelines.
- Social media channel FAQs and tutorials. Consider distilling the relevant information for your main channels and activities, and link to outside resources to provide additional background.
- The elements of a great LinkedIn profile, including how to customize your LinkedIn URL
- Twitter chats 101
- Introduction to Facebook groups
- Considerations for posting about client/customer projects. Team members will naturally be excited about the work they are doing and want to share that with their networks, but your guidelines should make note that not all information is fair game to post about online. Ensure you label any materials as confidential, and at the start of all projects brief your team on what they can/cannot disclose.
- You can consider giving all clients a 10% discount on any fees if they agree to be used for case studies. By having the rights to share the great work you are doing, you can have a greater likelihood of acquiring new clients.
Rolling Out Your Guidelines
Creating your guidelines is half the battle, but communicating the guidelines to your team (at both the launch and for ongoing awareness) is critical for ensuring employee adoption.
Consider these avenues for distributing the guides and supporting your team in using them:
- Employee orientations/onboardings. From day one, team members are eager to join your company and serve as advocates for your brand. Leverage this enthusiasm by sitting down with all new hires to discuss social media and help them get their channels set up in a brand-relevant way.
- Weekly meetings. Your team will likely have a weekly check-in to discuss the state of the business or various projects at hand, and you can easily carve 5 minutes out for a member of your team to discuss the guidelines, any updates that have been made, and help answer questions.
- Social media office hours. For team members that may be shyer in asking questions at your meetings, holding regular social media office hours can give them a safe place for more in-depth one on one time. This also helps make your team be viewed as a helpful resource, versus the brand police.
- Lunch and learns. Everyone loves lunchtime, and you can host informational meetings during lunch for everyone to enjoy their food while you present on topics relevant to your company’s social media.
As your employees take to social, engage with content that models what you view as a best practice example. Like, retweet, or share posts that you want other employees to emulate, and give praise to employees when you feel that they are representing the brand well on social.
You can even create lists that direct to your employee social accounts or blog pages. IBM has a running list of its employees’ blogs, making it easy for team members to engage with one another and share their content.
Setting the Foundation for Sustained Social Success
With your guidelines in place from day one, your team is starting off on the right foot for potential social media success. As team members become more excited about your offerings, you can explore other ways to integrate this employee advocacy into your content marketing strategy. Need help getting started? Get in touch.
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