When Courtney Keene, director of operations at MyRoofingPal, worked in marketing for a former employer, she experienced a social media disaster. Two of her employees were posting on the company's account from their personal accounts, which were filled with posts depicting wild parties.
Keene thought she'd done her due diligence by checking out their profiles before they were hired, but she says she didn't dig deep enough. "With an informal social media check done at the start, we thought we were good," she says.
Now she had a dilemma: She couldn't terminate the employees because the company didn't have a social media policy. She asked them to delete the images and posts that might have caused future problems and gave them professional social media accounts they could use.
Keene and her colleagues learned their lesson and crafted a company social media policy to avoid any further issues.
Like Keene's former employer, brands mess up all the time on social media. But don't worry—here are five ways to protect your brand and avoid similar issues.
1. Create a social media policy
A social media policy is a guide to what employees can and cannot do on a brand's social media properties. According to Thibaud Clement, CEO, and co-founder of Loomly, the policy should contain three things:
- Brand guidelines. These are guidelines for how you use brand assets like colors, font, photos, videos, slogans, trademarks, and logos.
- Editorial guidelines. These guidelines include what to talk about and how to communicate, including keywords, topics, brand voice, and tone that you should use and avoid.
- Corporate guidelines. These provide guidance on how employees should behave on social media on their business and personal accounts that tie them directly or indirectly to your brand.
You should also list the consequences if an employee violates the social media policy, according to Courtney Malengo, APR, founder and chief communicator at Spark + Buzz Communications.
For example, if a nurse posts a picture of a patient or patient chart, they are violating regulations and causing a legal liability for a hospital and should, therefore, face consequences.
2. Focus on brand-appropriate content
Brands suffer when they get involved in controversial issues that have nothing to do with their company. Instead, they should only produce brand-appropriate content.
"Don't try to be everything to everyone and don't get into the fray of topics that aren't germane to you and your business," Malengo says. "Focus on your core business and the value you can provide."
3. Take control of the conversation
Nick Bell, co-founder of Removify, was faced with a tricky situation when people who'd never used his service posted 25 negative reviews on his Google listing. He advises brands dealing with similar situations to take control of their brand and message.
"We focus on always being able to provide a great experience, getting great reviews when people are happy with our service and always being present on social media to talk through concerns rather than hiding away from anything that's less than desirable," he says.
4. Approve all posts
When one employee has access to social media without a system of checks and balances, problems can arise.
You need to have an approval system and schedule for social media content, Malengo says.
5. Hire the right person for the job
Brands may hire an intern or assign the youngest employee to manage social media accounts. However, that can be a mistake, Malengo says.
"Age does not always indicate expertise or savvy on social media," she says. "While someone who is young may be fluent in several social media platforms for their personal pleasure, they may not be adept at translating that knowledge into strategic insights for your business's social media presence."
Instead, hire your social media manager based on their professional background.
Social media presents an incredible opportunity to share your brand vision and message. By creating a solid social media policy and following best practices, you can find more customers, connect with them in meaningful ways, and boost your business at the same time.
"Social media can be a great tool for brand awareness and lead generation," Malengo says. "The key is to take a strategic approach to your social media management. Identify the most appropriate channels that will yield you the greatest benefit, along with a realistic posting frequency. As a small business, you don't have the time to be on every social media channel. Luckily, you don't have to be. Start small but be consistent."