A proper social media policy and strategy can help your organisation fly when it comes to engaging your audience online. Hugh Stephens from Dialogue Consulting gives us 7 reasons how.
It's really important when you're using social media to have a strong direction about what it is you want to do. Do you want to engage your community? Educate them about your services? Conduct online consultation? Drive more 'foot traffic' to events? This should be written down so that everyone posting knows what your ultimate aims and objectives are.
Social Media Policy isn't about being restrictive or limiting. It's about clarifying expectations of your staff, volunteers and the community. Unless you provide them with guidance on what is expected, how will they know? Thanks to the ever-changing nature of social media, it can be very difficult to 'translate' existing codes of conduct or similar.
Social Media Strategies are also about giving staff guidance about content and audiences. Who are you talking to? What do they want to know, and is that different to what you want them to know?
Social Media Strategy should include all of the best practice tips and tricks you should use online. How frequently should you tweet? What kind of content should you post? Where should different types of content be posted?
The biggest hurdle in social media for not-for-profits is almost always resourcing. Who will monitor and update your accounts? Do they have time to do so? Considerations about the times required for different channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…) are important in order to ensure you don't overload on social. Remember: it's better to do a couple of channels well than many channels poorly.
It's always a big concern: 'what happens if something goes wrong'? Procedures should be defined and put into place with a simple and easy-to-follow structure for any problem that might arise - whether it is a simple swear word or a more complex criticism of your service or staff. Protecting your online brand is as important as building it, and you want everyone to feel comfortable engaging with you online.
Many of us want to use social media and feel it will significantly benefit our everyday work, but that doesn't mean everyone agrees. Getting buy-in from your organisation is a lot easier when you can show them a strong strategy and policy that considers the risks and provides a structured response to mitigate them.
Hugh Stephens is Director of Dialogue Consulting. Dialogue Consulting is a social media consultancy based in Melbourne who are running 2-day social media 'bootcamps' in most capital cities, discussing how to use social media services and developing strategy and policy. For more information, visit the Dialogue Consulting website.