Essential Social Media Documentation for Businesses

March 5, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

Social media marketing is a business practice and as such, certain measures and controls must be put in place to ensure it delivers upon it’s objectives and adds value to the company. This should be documented for good business practice and for referencing. Social marketing is also a business expense, so clear strategic planning needs to be carefully considered before it’s investment is secured.

Social media marketing has grown vastly popular in modern years due to the low barriers to entry and the huge returns on investment that can be realized. But don’t be fooled into thinking that only the younger generation use it. With the right skills and knowledge, anyone can leverage social media marketing to improve business performance.

Frameworks and guidelines need to be well documented to provide focus and direction to the social media campaigns. This allows everyone involved to acknowledge what is expected and what parameters they should work within, while outlining best practices and tactical, operational and strategic considerations.

Social media documentation should be prepared and distributed to everyone in the business to raise awareness of the policies and procedures. Social media also has many business-personal overlaps and it might be wise to establish company-wide policies to avoid any potential future mishaps.

Various forms of documentation are typically required throughout the planning and implementation phases of social media marketing. Below is an overview of different types of documentation you may need producing for your business.

Social Media Policy

Your social media policy  is probably one of the first documents that will be produced. It encompasses your business cultures and values, ensuring your presence online reflects your offline identity.

It is often helpful to examine examples from other businesses to see how they have addressed the same challenges and opportunities that you may face. If you still need to write your social media policy, then take a look at this 

Social Media Roles

Determining who is in charge of each of your social media activities is essential for assigning responsibility and accountability throughout your business. When clear roles are defined, your organisation can more easily execute strategy and understand who can, and who cannot, do what.

Engagement Practices

Social media marketing is largely about engaging  in spaces where global communities are already participating. Ensuring that what is being said and how it is being said is within the remit of your business values and purpose, is important. Your social media engagement document might include:

  • A summary of best practices
  • Practice outlines for dealing with specific situations
  • What should be posted and shared online
  • What topics should never be discussed
  • How to respond in certain situations i.e. to negative/neutral/positive comments
  • When to respond

Usage Policy

Some social media domains use personal profiles in order to manage business practices. Two examples of this are on LinkedIn (connections are linked to personal profiles) and on Facebook  (group engagement is undertaken from personal profiles).

A usage policy will outline how social media is used in your personal time, as well as in business hours. Navigating between them can be difficult, so it’s important to lay out the ground rules ahead of time to ensure that all your contributors, who may have very different ideas about what is appropriate, are clear about your expectations.

Monitoring Policy

 Hopefully, people are talking about your business and the issues you care about. How much of the chatter you pay attention to is an important strategy decision. Are you tracking certain marketing metrics or brand elements? Should your staff, or the public, be made aware of any of these monitoring policies? Have you made it a business practice to monitor your staff contributions to social media? The extent to which you will monitor your campaigns should be made clear to everyone involved – you don’t want staff or social connections thinking your spying on them, or using their data in any way other than what has been communicated.

Privacy and Permissions

Social media platforms are a great channel to share information, but it’s important to make sure that the information is yours to share. This is especially important for businesses that work in sensitive areas, such as medical or healthcare environments, in which something as simple as someone’s name or photo might carry an implication or association with your business.

Copyright and attribution are important aspects to consider. There are two sides to copyright and attribution issues. First, what are your policies for allowing other people to use your content? On the flip side, how will you use other people’s content respectfully? It is important this is carefully considered before you start participating on social networks where your business credibility or authority will come into questions almost instantly.

Summary

These are a few of the most common documents that are typically produced before launching a social media campaign. Your business situation and your level of investment in social media marketing will likely determine your documentation requirements.

Social media marketing is not an area of marketing to be taken lightly. Don’t fall victim to common clichés that it is a young person’s game which can easily be outsourced to someone else. Everyone who contributes to your social media campaign is directly responsible for how your business is represented to the world online. Digital media has a global reach, so one mistake and your credibility could very quickly collapse.

Safeguard your business – don’t cut corners in the planning and set up stages that could come back to haunt you later. Make sure that your documentation is in check and that everyone contributing to social media marketing knows exactly what is expected of them.

Have you produced all the necessary social media marketing documentation yet for your business?


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Category: Business, Social Media

Stuart Davidson

Stuart Davidson()


Stuart is a freelance social and digital marketer from London, UK.
Stuart blogs at StuartJDavidson.com, where he
shares his marketing experiences working with over 50 businesses.
You can catch his free eBook
“How to Win in Social Media”
from his blog or
freelance website.


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