I can remember building websites one keystroke at a time—labouring over the headings, the text, the backgrounds and the colours. Back then there were no content management systems, and each website was created page-by-page, image-by-image. I was very excited by the possibilities of this new medium, but its value to business was still unclear. We didn’t know how to:
- Measure its value to the business or our customers
- Fit the web into our business-as-usual patterns
- Think outside of the publishing world that we knew
- Protect or copyright our work
- Train our teams
Looking at the world of social media, I feel a great sense of déjà vu. Again, there are many of the same problems, but with new complexities.
Where once web skills were rare, we now have generations of young people who appear to have social media expertise. Computers aren’t even needed—videos, pictures and text-based information can be published through social media directly from a smart phone or tablet. For all you know, your employees could have set up dozens of accounts, Facebook pages, websites, Twitter accounts or YouTube channels without your knowledge. And all of this impacts on the REPUTATION of your business and your brand.
And if this does not concern you, here are five reasons your company needs a social media policy:
- Social media expertise is no match for business experience: Just because your employees (or kids) have experience in using social media like Facebook or Twitter, this doesn’t automatically qualify them to understand your business or your customers. Business owners must set the ground rules for the way that social media is used, when it is used and by whom. Also see this response to why every social media manager should be under 25.
- The numbers are overwhelming: The online analytics company SocialBakers reports that Australia has the 21st largest population of Facebook users, with 11,663,320 registered users. This represents 54.85% of the population. Are your customers using Facebook? The answer is clearly yes.
- Don’t BE the conversation—be PART of it: Our customers are telling stories about our brands. The good, bad and the ugly are all tweeted, shared and documented. This information flows from one customer to another, from Facebook to Twitter and back again. How you respond to customer comments can have serious consequences—and can also create unexpected opportunities.
- Beat the competition: Is anyone else in your industry using social media? No? That smells like an opportunity to me. Outflank your competition by going direct to customers using social media.
- You don’t need to start from scratch: Don’t know how to write a social media policy for your business? Take a look at the Social Media Governance website, which lists hundreds of policies that you can use as a basis for your own. It’s an easy starting point but delivers peace of mind.