There was a recent discussion on one of the LinkedIn groups I’m a member of where the question was asked “who owns the responsibility for social media in your company?”
It’s an issue that we come across time and time again – understandably enough. Businesses work hard to maintain and control their public profile, and the idea of allowing free rein to any department to speak publicly for the company can give PR and marketing managers the cold sweats.
But with a little careful planning and training – and an element of trust – having a more open social media policy in your business can reap significant rewards.
Threat or opportunity
Just look at Social Media as another way of interacting with your community – apart from the technology, it’s no different to any other interaction.
There’s often a trust issue (mistrust mostly) when it comes to taking social media out of the hands of marketing or PR teams and empowering different departments.
Companies are used to their “marketing message” being centrally controlled, but in reality it never is. Your staff are sending out a marketing message every time they pick up the phone, talk to a client or supplier, drive around in a van with the company logo on it etc.
If you trust your staff to interact with clients on the phone – trust them to interact using social media.
You train staff to deal with face-to-face customer relations, so train them in social media relations.
Social media is a platform for communication – its not the message – and it’s
no more threatening (and just as much of an opportunity) as the telephone and email. Imagine where your business would be now if you had decided in 1993 that only the marketing team could use email!
With a bit of common sense, and the usual guidelines you’d apply to any public-facing interaction, an open social media policy can have many, many benefits for a company which far outweigh the risks.