Social Media Guidelines: Community Participation

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The key word in social media is social. Community participation is a key factor in any social media plan. Creating a policy that helps your employees participate in a smart and authentic way and keeps you from falling in the "one-way PR monologue" trap is critical. Here are some points to think over as you write this section of your social media guidelines:

1. What are your policies on employees using geo-tagging services such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places, etc? I personally don't use Foursquare or the like for my own company because I am a single woman who travels often. For my own safety, I don't need everyone knowing the exact coordinates of where I am at any given moment of the day. Safety concerns aside, will using geo-tagging services violate trade secrets or confidentiality agreements with your clients or suppliers (for example, an employee checking into your favorite top secret wholesaler's storefront or a client's home for a meeting)?

2. Will you participate in memes like Follow Friday (#ff) or Wedding Wednesday (#ww) (or as its known to the rest of Twitter - Wine Wednesday). If so, what are your guidelines for that? Here are some best practices to make those memes productive and keep them from annoying followers.

3. How often will you participate in conversation online vs self-promotion? It's important not to be the social media equivalent of the friend who only calls when they need something. If you only check into Twitter or Facebook to ask a question but never pay attention at other points, you're missing the point and missing out on an opportunity to tap into and build a strong community that you can contribute to and receive from on an ongoing basis. Likewise, if you only post and never reply to people on Twitter or Facebook, you are completely missing the point of these platforms regardless of how many followers you may have.

4. How will people or other companies be selected for your blogroll or your “like” button on facebook? How will you turn down people who ask to be on your blogroll but may not be a good fit?

5. If clients have access to your cell phone number, what is your policy on text messaging? Are employees allowed to text clients? This one may seem inconsequential, but it can snowball quickly if guidelines aren't in place.

6. How will customer service be handled online? Can anyone respond to a complaint or inquiry posted on a social media platform or will one person be designated for this task?

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