Business development 3 August 2017

Achieving social media success while safeguarding your reputation

Social media marketing
Setting strict social media guidelines ensures communications happen reflect the tone of the business

Here, Daire Paddy, a small business media advisor, provides founders with a strategy for social media success that ensures a company’s reputation is protected both online and offline.

Having a social media presence and creating regular digital content are vital parts of doing business today.

When done well, you’ll see a real impact on your company’s profile. You can cultivate a community of fans (and turn them into keen customers). You can deal with client queries swifter than ever before. You can turn your business into a real leader in your niche.

But so many small businesses are still avoiding using social media to its full potential. Perhaps they simply don’t know what to share, or don’t know how to make a serious subject seem engaging. Or perhaps, more likely, their reluctance to stand out online is based on fear.

  • Fear that once something’s “out there”, it’s out there for good
  • Fear of doing it wrong
  • Fear of adding yet another thing to your to do list
  • Fear of losing control of your message if you dare to delegate

These fears are very real. But we live in a world where high-profile brands (and even world leaders) make very public mistakes daily.

Is it the end of the world? No. At least not for them.

Don’t let worries of what could happen hold you back from using a tool that could have a powerful impact on your business. Instead, set yourself up for success.

Start by passing responsibility for the company’s social channels to a member of your team. There should always be a single point of contact behind your social media marketing so that you maintain a consistent tone in every communication.

Realistically, as the business owner, that point of contact cannot be you. You’re responsible for developing the business in other ways.

Delegating such a public task can feel quite uncomfortable to start with, but it really is necessary if you’re hoping to grow. Trust the staff you’ve brought on board.

One way to make sure your communications happen the “company way” is to set some strict social media guidelines. This would be a simple document outlining desired behaviours, content and tone, expected from team members broadcasting on behalf of the business.

Prompts to help you establish your own set of social guidelines

  • What impression do you want to give to potential clients or investors?
  • How do you want people to feel when they interact with your brand?
  • What kind of information would you like to share?
  • How often would you like to see activity on social media?
  • What topics would you like to focus on?
  • What topics would you like to stay away from?
  • Who would you like to build relationships with online?
  • Would you like to use social media for customer service?

Tone of voice is an important element to define, because this should be consistent across all communications, not just social media. Your company voice should be just as recognisable in client emails and product descriptions as it is on Twitter or Facebook.

It would also be prudent to outline the types of content to be shared across your social channels. Product photography? Your offers and reviews? Press mentions? Tips? Put all of this in black and white for your social media manager to refer to.

Social media planning

I’ve argued the benefits of delegating social media activity, but you should also know what’s going on. Content planning can really help with this. I recommend planning your digital content in three month blocks – this gives you enough scope to plan and promote all launches, events, and key industry dates.

Consider asking your social media manager to develop a comprehensive content plan, and then book a meeting to review and offer feedback before anything gets published.

If nothing else, this will help you feel a lot more comfortable with giving up that control.

I often see business owners (of all sizes) focusing on the possible negative consequences of raising their social media profiles, but it really can have such a benefit.

It puts you in a unique position to communicate with audiences you would never ordinarily be exposed to. It helps you connect with customers and collaborators directly. It allows you to really show how excellent your USP is, by sharing all those brilliant testimonials, reviews and press mentions.

The opportunities are endless, so go dive in.

Daire Paddy is an online content writer specialising in small business

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