Posted on | August 28, 2010 | No Comments
It can be rough to be in the position of having to plead the case for starting a Facebook page or a Twitter feed to a manager or executive director, especially if they may not be familiar with social media or see its value.
Many managers share the same questions and concerns when it comes to social media – usually issues of crisis communication/message control, privacy and time management. In my experience, there are three first steps you can take to help alleviate social media skittishness in an organization:
1.) Conduct a staff wide “Intro to Social Media” Training
Social media “power users” sometimes assume that the basics of Facebook, Twitter, etc are common knowledge; conducting an intro to social media training can get your staff on the same page and speaking the same language before you move into developing a social media strategy for your company.
At this training you can not only cover basic definitions and descriptions of social media tools and tactics, but also address some of the concerns that staff members may have about issue of privacy, managing negative feedback and professional vs. personal use of social media sites.
Depending on the size and culture of your organization, you may have to conduct this training more than once. Especially if you are a newer staff member, you may be eager to “blow some minds” with all the great possibilities of social media, but for many companies, the two-way approach of communications that social media thrives on is very different from they’ve historically communicated with their customers/supporters. Be patient, and put yourself in the role of educator for your staff.
2.) Develop internal and external social media policy/guidelines for your company
Once your initial training is complete and most staff members are speaking the same social media language (or at least trying to,) you can start to approach the challenging task of setting up internal and external policies for social media use. Having such guidelines are an effective way to set your company’s social media rules of engagement to help guide your staff, and are also an effective response to any pushback you may recieve from staff members concerned about issues of crisis management and negative feedback.
You’ll want to get buy-in from your highest ranking staff member on these guidelines; without top down support such guidelines are difficult to maintain and uphold. Also you’ll want the input of staff members from multiple departments, not just communications and marketing, since any or all staff members may be called upon to engage with customers via social media, you’ll want everyone’s concerns and needs addressed.
Intel’s social media guidelines are a great template for any organization.
3.)Organize a social media working group that meets regularly to share ideas and resources
This is especially effective for large organizations that may have multiple departments initiating social media strategies. My current employer adopts this approach and the monthly meetings are a great way to keep the other 50+ members for our group in the loop; it opens up points of opportunity to collaborate on social media projects and share news and findings. There’s so much going on in the social media world that it’s impossible for any one person to keep up with it all, so regular working group meetings can keep staff members up to date with new tech/legal/social changes with Facebook or Twitter, and also any internal changes to social media policy that may affect the work of other departments.
These are three ideas that have helped me as a social media staff member in different organizations; what approaches have worked for you?