Don’t tell me what to do

What guidelines are needed for businesses wanting to introduce social media into their marketing and comms mix?

It’s a good question.  On the one hand you could argue you don’t really need any.  If you and your employees are representing the brand, then the already accepted and implemented communications guidelines in existence should be enough.  As an example at a recent event a representative from Dell computers said ‘ we expect our social media reps to operate online in exactly the same manner they would when answering an email or phonecall’  Makes sense.

But social media online is such a new area and there are no precedents set yet on the accepted ways of working and communicating.  Everyday I am receiving invites to events on ‘the legalities of twitter’ and ‘the pitfalls for social networkers to avoid’, demonstrating there is still some confusion in this area and definitely a demand for more knowledge.

We know from experience that telling people what to do, doesn’t always get the best results but…

My advice?  Be clear at the outset about how social media fits in with your overall communications policies.  Create a best practice guide for all who are taking part and regularly update it.  And most of all be willing to be flexible but never compromise something online that you wouldn’t offline.

And just to be helpful here’s a link to Coca Cola’s social media principles… A good example of a company hitting the mark just right.


1 Comment

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One response to “Don’t tell me what to do

  1. A good point well made, Julie.
    I think that many organisations struggle with this area and so fail to make the most of this emerging communications channel. Either they fail to give their staff any guidelines and so end up embarassed in some way, or they’re too prescriptive and so fail to convey the authentic personality that is essential to effective communications in the social media world.
    It’s a difficult tightrope to walk, but one that can reap impressive rewards if done well. I’ve just been writing the chapter on blogging in my latest book (Brilliant Online Marketing – to be published by Pearson in late 2010) and one of the two case studies in there was of a London business that began blogging in mid-2009 and is now getting 1500 visitors to its blog every month (a number that grows at 10% per month), 300 of whom visit the company’s main site and many of whom then convert into customers. Well worth doing!

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