Social Media Guidelines: Wings and Guardrails for Your Staff

Joe Chernov, Director of Content at Eloqua shares top tips on internal guidelines for using social media

One of the reasons social media acumen has become such an organisational priority is because marketers are now able to track actual revenue to their social media, inbound marketing and marketing automation efforts. Yet as marketers turn to social networks to deepen relationships with existing customers while attracting the attention of new prospects, it becomes increasingly important that guidelines are promulgated throughout the company . Increasingly it falls to The Social CMO to ensure all internal teams have a solid understanding of the main dos and don’ts of social media and how their business uses these channels.

We believe that the overriding success for use of social media is authenticity – we like to say, “real words by real people.” But beyond that, we thought it might be interesting for us to publish our social media guidelines, so that others can get an idea of what social media best practice might look like for their company.

Our focus is on the aspirational – that’s why we lead with 5 things you can do to succeed in social media. First of all we suggest that our employees “please do” the following:

  • Listen. The most important ?rst step you can take in social media is to listen before you “speak.” Social media offers a unique window into the lives of colleagues, customers and in?uentials. Adhering to a “listen-?rst” mantra will help you gain valuable insights that inform how – or even if – you want to engage.
  • Be authentic. The era of online anonymity has ended. Social media demands honest, transparent and authentic participation. Social networks are human networks; so don’t be afraid to share about your hobbies, travels and even weekend adventures.
  • Be consistent. When cultivating a social media presence, be consistent about the information contained in your pro?le and the content you share. Consistency helps build trust with others, whether it is a simple “oh, I recognize that pro?le photo” or a deeper sense of involvement.
  • Be gracious. Applauding the good work of others and thanking others for their support are the cornerstones of any good community – on- and of?ine alike. Whether it is citing a source with a link in a blog post, retweeting or giving a “shout out,” be sure to credit and thank the original creator.
  • Disclose. Letting your online audiences know that you work for the company you do is essential if you are tweeting content online. A great way to do this is ?lling out your Twitter bio with a brief line about your affiliation to your employer, as well adding this information to your Facebook and LinkedIn pro?les. Additionally, if you are supporting the efforts of a client, make sure that you check with your company’s social media figurehead before promoting the content to make sure you have the proper disclosure in place.

At the same time we also have the following “please do nots”. It is worth noting that these are not intended to be a cautionary or punitive. Rather, these guidelines serve as both guardrails and wings – to help you stay in bounds, while learning how to take staff’s personal brand and the company they work for to the next level through social media.

  • Share con?dential information about the company/clients/partners

  • Criticize clients/colleagues/partners/competitors

  • Spread rumours or false information about the company/clients/partners/ competitors

  • Reveal personal information about any of your colleagues. Examples include tweeting side conversations or posting personal photos to Facebook or Flickr without their explicit permission.

  • Misrepresent yourself or the company. Every action online is, at some level, traceable – so make sure the content that you are creating and impressions you are leaving, no matter how big or how small, are accurate, honest and true.

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