Social Media Tools vs Strategy
Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

A client has been telling us consistently that social media is not really for them since they are in a very specific B2B market and social media doesn’t really affect them. I proved them otherwise.

A week ago, I had an alert on LinkedIn to say that someone (relatively senior) had left the company. I called my client and asked him about it. He was taken aback since they had not planned on sharing that information till they had a substitute. Too late. All that person’s contacts on LinkedIn as well as all those following the company were now aware. That included other business partners, customers, et al. They (our client) are now looking at making sure they do have a policy and they cannot afford to ignore social media.

If you think that social media is just another fad or a toy just for consumer related stuff – forget it. You need to have a policy in place. In addition to people talking about your company and its services/products, policies, your employees are using it in some form or another on a personal level. And what are the odds that some of their ‘friends’ are people that they have befriended in the course of business. More than likely, that ‘friend’ knows your employee as a representative of the company (no matter how friendly they are). And who is to say that they may not take offence to some comment that is made on social media. So just avoiding social media during working hours is no longer an excuse not to have a policy.

I found this article from Fast Company of great use and there’s some great advice here from larger companies like Intel and CNN that I think we can benefit from. My highlights are these from Intel’s policy that should stand any company in good stead:

  • Stick to your area of expertise and provide unique, individual perspectives on what’s going on at your company and in the world.
  • Post meaningful, respectful comments—in other words, no spam and no remarks that are off-topic or offensive.
  • Always pause and think before posting. That said, reply to comments in a timely manner, when a response is appropriate.
  • Respect proprietary information and content, and confidentiality.
  • When disagreeing with others’ opinions, keep it appropriate and polite.
  • Know and follow the your company’s Code of Conduct and Privacy Policy (if you don’t have one, create one)

Even though social media is about connecting on a personal level, the line between social and official is getting blurred every day.

Additional resources for social media policies can be found here.
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