Training for Social Media Practices at Your Company
The irony of using social media and/or a blog to share about the risks of social media is not lost on me. I go into writing and sharing this post with my eyes wide open though, and hopefully you and others in your organization do too.
Careers, reputations, and financial gains and losses can all be at stake. “You’re being a bit dramatic,” I hear you say, but a critical mistake on an online platform can cost a lot more than you’ve probably considered. You only have to type “social media scandal” into Google to read any number of stories about influencers, celebrities, leaders, and organizations that have made a social media boo-boo.
But we’re not talking about a Kardashian faux pas on Twitter or Katy Perry livestream gone wrong, as interesting (or not) as they sound; we’re talking about your brand and how to protect it online.
What did we ever do before social media?
There is no denying that social media platforms can be a marketing team’s dream – the audience you can reach through advertising your product or service is incredible. You no longer have to place a print ad in a newspaper or magazine or create TV or radio commercial and hope your customers will view it. Social media advertising goes to the consumer (whether they like it or not), among all their tweets, snaps, posts, shares, or videos they are consuming. Meaning as little Jimmy is scrolling through his videos of Dobermans doing funny things, he’s likely to come across many ads for different products and services – including maybe yours (if you advertise this way).
But all jokes about Jimmy and his Doberman aside, as we know, marketing done well via social media is shown to drive more customers to your website, help you build your brand with new customers, give you an opportunity to evaluate the customer demographics on who is liking and sharing your ads with others and generally is much faster and easier than any other methods of advertising we ever had before.
So, what could possibly go wrong?
Ease and speed to share your brand online does come with risks. What if that funny video you shared of your product had the wrong price or it bad-mouthed your competitor? What if it was shared for all the wrong reasons and became a meme? Or a disgruntled customer shared their thoughts in the Comments to that video on how bad the service was that they received from your company? Dealing with social media is not quite as easy as it sounds. It does take work. You must have the right strategy in place to harness the benefits of advertising on social media, and to handle feedback from customers in the right way. Advice: just deleting negative comments is not the right way.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the risks of social media. Your organization needs to decide who will be authorized to speak (or post/share) on behalf of the company. The last thing you want is someone just posting their thoughts on your new product without consulting anyone in the marketing department on the strategy for a new product launch. Some very well-known social media mistakes have occurred when company executives or brand ambassadors have gone off script and it has damaged not only their own reputation, but that of their company/sponsor.
Can’t I say what I like in my own time?
Social media platforms are often an extension of our workplace. We spend most of our time with our work colleagues and so it’s only natural that we connect with many of them online as well. But this comes with an inherent risk of saying or doing things online we shouldn’t, like sharing your thoughts on a colleague’s taste in clothing. Those things we shouldn’t do in our physical workplaces like bully, harass, and discriminate, should also not be done on social media platforms. Your employees need to know that what they say and do online, even with the best privacy settings applied, can just as easily come back to bite them. Bad behavior is bad behavior, in-person or online.
How to protect your brand from social media mishaps?
Ignoring or banning social media is not the solution. Training for best practices, however, is. Having a strategy on how to harness social media to build your brand is a start. Then, make sure those with the power to post, share, and be your organization’s voice, are trained in how to do it.
Creating procedures on dealing with customer complaints online is also needed, and while you’re at it, make sure you have a policy for your employees on using social media. It should include what they can and can’t do online and to whom to report any issues they spot. Rolling out training to all employees is the key to making sure they understand the risks of sharing too much online, which may not only reflect badly on them, but the company they work for, and may even put their job in jeopardy.
Please see the complete course collection on Online Social Presence from Litmos Training Content to bring your team up-to-speed on best practices for this challenging area of communication.