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Developing a Social Media Policy

March 3, 2011

Most (if not all) of your employees have an online presence. Whether or not they are directly involved in the implementation of your social media strategy, it is important for your company to have a social media policy that makes expectations clear. This policy should address how employees talk about the company as well as how they conduct themselves as representatives of the company.

I am currently doing some work with a child care center and one of our tasks has been to develop a set of principles to be given to employees. These principles were developed to help the center manage its reputation and help employees manage the balance between their personal and professional lives.

Social Media Principals

Be responsible
– The Center encourages employees to engage in social media for personal use and on behalf of the organization. When conducting yourself online, you are responsible for the content that you post.

Be respectful
– Conducting yourself with respect is always a good idea. When discussing The Center, its mission, employees and customers, do so with respect.

Follow policy
– All Center policies apply when speaking about your work, or the work of the center online.

Full disclosure
– When discussing the Center, always disclose that you are an employee.
– Never misrepresent the Center or mislead people.

Know that the internet is permanent
– Once something is posted to the internet, it is permanent; be mindful of this.
– Think before posting, especially in emotional situations.

Understand privacy settings
– It is common for your work life to intersect with your personal life. It is your responsibility to understand and use privacy settings when posting content. This is especially important when maintaining relationships with parents.

Confidentiality
– Always remember that interactions with children and their families are to be kept confidential. Center privacy policies should be followed online.

When in doubt – ask
– If you are not sure if something is ok, or if you see something online you’re unsure of how to respond to – ask!

Although the principles you develop for your company will differ based on your policies and industry, this list provides a good starting point. The next step would be to present your policy to your employees. Employees will probably respond best if the presentation is done in a positive and light tone. To really help your employees understand the policy and how it affects their social media use, it can be presented in conjunction with social media training – especially on the use of privacy settings.

Does your company have a social media policy? If so, is it effective? If not, do you believe it would be beneficial?

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monitoring your brand online

February 27, 2011

Your social media strategy is done. You have created profiles on your selected platforms and developed content to post consistently – you’re well on your way to establishing meaningful engagement with your customers! But have you thought about what’s going on beyond the applications you’ve selected? The internet is a big place, how can you efficiently find your customers, and most importantly, what are they saying?

There are numerous tools out there that help bring this information to you and I encourage you to do your research to find a tool that will meet your needs. Today I’m going to talk about one such tool, Social Mention.

Social Mention claims to be like Google Alerts, but for social media. The site provides an easy to use search bar that allows you to search for keywords. Social Mention can also narrow your search to specific platform types such as blogs or networks.

Search results are displayed and analyzed by sentiment, keyword, users, hash tags and sources. Social Mention is a basic tool that gives you a decent overview of your company’s online presence, whether it’s created by you or someone else. The service is free and doesn’t require software downloads.

Social Mention is a tool that is useful for companies with limited resources because it doesn’t require an investment. It’s easy to use interface is user-friendly making it a great solution for small business owners who are comfortable using online tools and for those who are just testing the waters.

Do you monitor your customers or brand online? What tools do you use?

Managing Multiple Accounts

February 10, 2011

Small businesses have a lot on their plate. Adding social media to the mix may seem like an overwhelming task. If you’re committed to engaging in social media but aren’t sure how to manage your time a Social Media Management System may be a tool for you.

There are many options available. One I like is HootSuite. The company offers a basic account (free), and a premium account ($5.99/month) for users needing more information. If you’re just starting out, HootSuite is a great way to manage your social media accounts and see how they are performing. If the basic account becomes too limited, the premium account is an affordable upgrade.

HootSuite links to your existing social media profiles and allows you to view them all from one application. You can view activity and post updates. Using a social media management system is an efficient way to meet the goals you’ve established in your social media strategy.

Additional benefits of HootSuite include being able to manage multiple accounts from the same platform such as several Twitter feeds or Facebook pages. It also allows you to schedule posts, which lets you plan ahead when you have time. HootSuite also provides statistics (that are more detailed with the premium account).

Do you use a tool to manage your social media accounts?

why you need a social media strategy

January 30, 2011

photo provided by: to say the least

If you are a small business interested in pursuing social media to market or brand your business, it is important that you develop a strategy for doing so. A strategy will help you accomplish three important things:

1. Establish your goals

The core of a social media strategy is the development of clear goals – what you want your social media use to achieve. Your strategy will then be designed to reach these goals. Make sure that everyone involved in the implementation of the social media plan has a thorough understanding of the goals to ensure that your company’s social media engagement on track.

2. Create a genuine voice

As more customers become more accustom to communicating with businesses through social media, their expectations will increase. It is important that your company use a real voice – do not try to be something you are not! Social media presents an opportunity to engage your customers, make sure you are speaking to them in a way that will support your other marketing efforts.

3. Manage time commitments

Engaging in social media takes time to do well. Being honest about how much time you have to dedicate to various applications is an important part of the planning process. Do not try to do too much. Knowing how much time you have available will allow your company to determine how much you can take on and which tools are most essential to your strategy.

The more you know about your business before developing a social media strategy, the stronger your engagement will be. For further reading, I recommend Small Business Trend’s article: 9 Things to do Before Entering Social Media, which provides a comprehensive list of things to consider that will make your strategy more meaningful.

what is social media?

January 20, 2011

A precise definition of social media is difficult to find, as various people have ideas about its distinct meaning. Generally, the term is used to describe the various ways that people are interacting online. Social media represents a shift in online activity. It used to be that users went online to view content. Now users are creating and engaging on the internet.

Examples of social media include the well-known Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. The term also encompasses lesser known tools such as Reddit, Vimeo, and Care2.

What does this mean for small businesses?

Marta Kagan’s slideshow provides a good overview of social media and how it can be useful to businesses.

Many small businesses are already using social media, in part because it is a trendy topic and most services are free. While having a social media presence is great, I challenge small businesses to give some thought towards why they are using social media, and what they hope to gain from it. Once you have established your goals, you can work to really engage with your customers using social media, to develop relationships. The best way to do this is by creating a thoughtful social media strategy to outline how your goals will be met.

social media for small business

January 15, 2011

Photo provided by passionatephoto.com

This blog, social media for small business, has been created to explore how social media can be utilized by small businesses.

Social media is establishing itself as a credible marketing tool, but is often an overwhelming task to consider – especially for a small business with limited resources. I started this blog to have a place to gather existing ideas and spark new ones in order to create a conversation of how companies are currently using social media to build their brands – and how they can do it better. The blog will use real-life examples to inspire other businesses and make the task of diving into communities less daunting.

I look forward to your comments as we learn most from each other!