It is certainly no secret that the continued rise of social media has transformed how businesses connect and network with our colleagues, candidates, contacts and clients.
Traditionally, marketing for business was always about networking. The key question for the go getters and the advocates was: how many clients and referral sources can I develop a personal relationship with?
Today, personal relationships are certainly still important. This should, in my utopian view of business, never change. How they can be developed, though – is an intriguing journey that has been rapidly evolving for quite some time and continues to amaze. The rise of social media has developed a whole new set of options for anyone interested in contributing to the growth of their business and, often synonymously, their own career. You can now network at any time with colleagues, candidates, contacts and clients locally, nationally – and internationally.
Some high-chunk stats (after all, I’m from a work family that loves the numbers):
- Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second;
- Facebook has 2.01 billion monthly active users as of 30 June 2017; and
- 50% of Australians use social networking sites at least once a day.
* Source: https://press.linkedin.com/about-linkedin (2017), https://ncwsroom.fb.com (2017), https://www.sensis.com.au/ asset/PDFdirectory/Sensis_Social_Media_Report_2016.PDF (2016)
Fortunately, being progressive and innovative is a value that most businesses are placing a much greater importance in and should become a true characteristic of any good brand looking towards the future. It is fair, therefore, to assume that most reading this have already embraced the rise of social media and are currently growing their number of active social media advocates.
Calling out for a hero
I’d like to turn quickly to one of my favourite superheroes to weigh in on the situation at hand:
“With great power comes great responsibility”
Now what is Spiderman doing weighing in on social media commentary, you ask? I am not weaving a tangled web, I promise you…
Whilst he may save the world by travelling along a fictional web, there are certainly parallels to be taken from this protagonist’s balance of good and evil when approaching social media on the “inter web”…
As social media activity increases in a business, it is extremely important to implement social media guidelines in order to uphold the reputation of a business brand and support the advocates working to extend it. A brand is something that, when placed in social media spheres (particularly LinkedIn) actually has the ability to extend the power it has beyond the reach of a main company page to all professional profiles of employees associated in the company. They effectively become part of the lifeblood of that business – and success it has – whether they are aware of it or not. Getting social media wrong can therefore also cause more damage than good to a business. There’s a lot of power on the line for any brand advocate – and great responsibility. Thus my Spiderman parallels and the importance of balancing brand and BD out there…
Balancing good and evil
There are many ways to approach the crafting of a social media policy. A lot will hinge upon the size of your business, target demographics and overall marketing plans that your business may have… but a good starting point if you are dipping a toe in the policy pool (and looking to help new staff members dip toes in the social media pool at the same time) is to remember the 3 Ps:
Professional social networking should be promoted and supported by any business but the activity regularly monitored by a leadership or internal marketing team. When of a high standard that reflects the overall business mission statement and values, social networking should ideally encourage staff to:
- Connect: For networking and brand advocacy;
- Follow: For professional development and educational upskilling;
- Engage: For contribution to discussions on issues relevant to their skillset (and the firm’s); and
- Lead: To extend on engagement through thought leadership and original content.
Personal social networking should be identified by a business as purely that – personal – and generally should not be linked in any way with a business or professional networking. Encourage your employees to understand the difference and to draw a clear line between the two early on in their careers.
When personal social networking is at all associated with a business (this may be through references or by tagging etc) or where any professional social networking is taking place, the employee operating the account should read and understand a formal social media policy decided upon as best practice for the business.
Hopefully remembering the 3 P’s, balancing advocacy and power like Spiderman and not forgetting that your brand should always be about relationships (even when over the web) should go a long way to helping you get started when creating a social media policy to best suit your business. Having staff speaking positively about your business and brand to potential employees and clients as experts and thought leaders should enable each one of them to leverage the power of their personal social network, magnify your brand presence and enhance your reputation out there.
An Important Message
While every effort has been made to provide valuable, useful information in this publication, this firm and any related suppliers or associated companies accept no responsibility or any form of liability from reliance upon or use of its contents. Any suggestions should be considered carefully within your own particular circumstances, as they are intended as general information only.