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Social-Media Policy Examples in Business

April 22nd, 2011

social media policy examplesSocial-media marketing (SMM) is one of the latter stages of the process of creating and implementing an overall Internet-marketing strategy, but that does not make it any less important.

As we often write, the general philosophy of all marketing — online or traditional — in for-profit companies is to maximize the number of relevant leads and then direct them to the sales department. The principle has remained the same even though the tactics may change — but with one important difference.

The process of maximizing leads in online marketing involves attracting as much relevant traffic to a website from which people will purchase a product, click on an advertising banner, or perform some other desired action. As such, the point is that the website itself needs to be optimized as well as attractive and engaging as possible before the traffic arrives through search-engine marketing (SEM) and SMM. If a person visits the site and sees that it is unattractive and unprofessional, he will never return (and be less likely to “convert” in the first place).

How to Use Social-Media Policy Examples

We have addressed the basics of search-engine optimization (SEO) and SEM in other places, so here we will address social-media policy examples. This will become more important as Google begins to incorporate social-media postings in search results (see “SMM — Art of Social-Media Marketing in Google“). After a website is constructed, it will be just as important to perform SMM in an effective, ethical way. First, the general principles:

  • SMM must incorporate your desired branding. Just as the general marketing-strategy must support the chosen business-strategy, so must social-media policies reflect the overall marketing-strategy. SMM is a crucial way to reinforce your selected branding. If you are a university, then your Facebook and Twitter posts will likely be serious and link to academic writings. If you are selling music to tweens and teens, then your updates will probably include “text-message spelling” (“what r u up 2?”) and jokes in an informal style. And so on.
  • SMM cannot be micromanaged. Traditional communications involves the sending of a smaller number of items like lengthy essays, press releases, and white papers. Each can be edited beforehand since the time-frame allows. However, social-media communications involve the sending of short messages (posts, tweets, and blog articles) very often — sometimes multiple times every few hours. If the marketing manager would review each one beforehand, then he would turn into a bottleneck and decrease the department’s efficiency. The person who is directly responsible for the marketing should be able to send the messages directly and without prior approval (as long as he knows the general policies and goals). The manager should review the communications in general once in a while and then provide feedback as warranted.
  • SMM must be as authentic as possible. To some degree, nearly all marketing communications are inauthentic because they are written or produced in ways to suit the mentalities, needs, and desires of the targeted customers. It is not an objective articles like one would find in a objective newspapers. However, there is a debate among online marketers as to whether active, intentional deception is ethical. (See “SEM Preparation: Social Media, Twitter, Fake Personas.”) In the aforementioned teenage-music example, a company’s Twitter account may “be” a teenage kid — complete with a “name,” “picture,” and so on — to appeal to that customer base. But is this wrong? Policies need to be written to address the use of these strategies.
  • SMM needs to address negative feedback. At some point, it is guaranteed that people like dissatisfied customers or unscrupulous competitors will post things you do not like on your Facebook page or addressed to you on Twitter. How should you respond? Ideally, social-media outlets can be an effective tool for customer service and market research. Someone may post on your Facebook page, “I used your product, and it broke after three days. Can I get a replacement?” And you can respond easily and cheaply (rather than by taking the time of customer-service representatives). But those people who develop a grudge against your company — rightly or not — may start harassing your company through posting negative items constantly. You need to develop a policy before this occurs.

These are just a few of the social-media marketing principles that form the foundation of effective outreach. However, it is important to develop policies alongside an overall strategy. For more information on specific social-media policy examples in companies and organizations that incorporate these principles, I recommend the sites here, here, and here for your own research.

Related: How SMM, Social-Media Guidelines Changed Advertising

Samuel J. Scott, a former journalist in Boston turned Internet marketer in Israel, is the founder and publisher of My SEO Software and Director of Digital Marketing and Communications and SEO Team Leader at The Cline Group. You can follow him at Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. His views here and elsewhere do not necessarily reflect those of his company and clients.