One of the side effects of the Trump campaign and presidency is an expanded understanding of the power social media has. In a number of tweets, President Trump not only set parts of the political agenda but also altered the value of large companies such as Boeing and influenced international relations. And while many large companies have had social media policies I think it's time to take another look at them and reconsider what an effective social media policy and strategy looks like, and what an ineffective social media plan looks like.
When social media is used effectively, it's a great tool for quickly communicating with customers and the broader community. Many news outlets monitor social media channels constantly for keywords, specific people and companies so the wise use of social can be far more effective than a press release. And an effective social media strategy has been found to correlate with share price.
But it also means bad news can get out faster than ever before. What are some effective steps to take to ensure social media is used effectively?
Lock down corporate social channels
This might sound obvious but some of the biggest social media abuses have come from malicious actors getting unauthorised access to social media accounts and tweeting.
Make sure social media accounts are protected with strong passwords and two-factor authentication.
Use social media management tools
Tools like Sprout and HootSuite make it possible to assign access to your social accounts to staff. This gives you more control so when you have multiple people monitoring and using your social accounts you knwo who is doing what.
Be clear on responsibility
In a large company, you need to accept that staff may, and probably will, share internal memos and other information. The recent United Airlines internal memo, following the violent ejection of a passenger from a flight, is a good example of how it is almost impossible to keep internal documents inside your walled garden.
With official corporate accounts, make sure they are clearly described as official in the profile.
Staff accounts are harder to manage. I suggest the social media behaviour of staff is impossible to manage. Even of you block social media access from the office network, smartphones are almost uncontrollable and there's nothing you can do about staff at home.
Explain to everyone that their words do matter. Make it easy for staff to air and work through grievances internally or by making independent counsellors available.
If a staff member posts something online then don't jump on them with the full weight of internal disciplinary action. Look at why they felt they had to take matters into their own hands and learn from it. It's been my experience that people only go to extreme measures if they feel strongly about something and aren't given an opportunity to handle things through effective and trusted internal processes.
You can also ask staff to add a "Vies expressed are personal and not those of my employer" as a disclaimer to their own social accounts.
You can't control the message.... but
Social media is like a living thing. You may be able to predict what will happen in a given situation but you can't completely control it. However, you can frame things so that your message is heard. And President Trump is a good example of how this can be effective.
During the presidential campaign, he was relentless is keeping a number of consistent messages and using simple, straight-forward language to ensure the message was memorable and repeatable.
And while you may not agree with his politics, his campaign's ability to maintain a number of consistent themes, that were aided by certain events, were a significant factor in his election win.
Keep your messages simple and consistent.
Think before you post
There are dozens of social media campaigns that have gone viral for the wrong reasons.
Before sending out a message that you think is funny or appeals to whatever is currently popular, get someone independent to validate your idea. One person's funny can be someone else's offensive.
What other some of the other gotchas in today's social media world for enterprises? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.