In today’s world, a viral social media post can either catapult a business toward success or destroy its reputation in one fell swoop. One ill-considered tweet or Facebook post might leave a company scrambling to do damage control with the public.
If you don’t want your brand’s reputation to suffer, it’s important to be socially aware and considerate when communicating with your audience. To that end, a panel of Business Journals Leadership Trust members shares some best practices to avoid missteps on social media.
1. Develop a clear social media policy.
Protecting the company brand online is critically important. All businesses — regardless of size — should have a strong social media policy in place. Assure that employees know what is and is not appropriate. Having clear and robust community guidelines on social platforms is equally important, as they can provide the roadmap for how companies respond to content posted on their social channels. – Hinda Mitchell, Inspire PR Group
2. Remember who you are.
Often social media debacles start with a brand or company going off-script. They try to be too humorous, too cheeky or too smart or represent something that doesn’t align with the company, its mission or its brand. If you stay true to who you are — the voice people on social media came to hear in the first place — then damage control should not be necessary. – Brock Berry, AdCellerant
3. Remind leaders that they’re always representing the company.
Most of us have an internet presence via social media while also having a professional presence at work. My advice is to discuss openly with leaders the fact that there’s no “off-switch” to being a leader. Ensure they understand that they’re representing themselves at all times in their conduct, decisions and posts on social media, and encourage them to show up as their best selves online and in real life. – Natalie Ruiz, AnswerConnect
4. Keep your emotions in check, but respond with empathy.
Social media is about people communicating with people. When we respond to a comment on our page, we don’t respond with our “stock” corporate response. Instead, we reply with a message that personally addresses the person. When an adverse event happens, keep your emotions in check. Let the other side know that you understand how they feel and you’ll fix the situation. – Cody McLain, SupportNinja
5. Have an edit and review process.
Do you ever write something and think, “What was I trying to say here?” That is where an internal editing team can help. Aside from them being an extra set of eyes for punctuation and grammar, they can help you condense and improve what you were trying to say. If you want to produce great content, you need a great editing team to go with it. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
6. Review and schedule posts in advance.
Schedule posts, and include detailed edit and review processes. At our organization, content needs to meet specified criteria that fall within our expertise, and we limit spontaneous responses. Careful curation and cultivation of content have helped us avoid social media missteps. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management
7. Don’t try to make jokes.
Unless you operate a gag shop or comedy club, it’s usually better to avoid jokes and gags in your posts. Failed attempts at being humorous will make your company come across as very amateur or, even worse, as though you are trying too hard to be “with it” or cool. Instead, you should adopt a voice reflecting how you’d speak to the clients or customers who enter your business. – Wesleyne Greer, Transformed Sales
8. Provide proper social media training and monitoring.
As a career digital marketer with a specialty in online reputation management (including social media), I always recommend creating a plan that management supports and that provides for proper training and regular monitoring. Lastly, the plan should have a crisis-management component so everyone knows what to do should the worst outcome arise. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.