Social Media Guidelines: Content Creation

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The secret sauce to any effective public facing social media plan can be found in its content. Whether its blog posts, tweets, facebook updates, photos or videos, the content you publish online is capable of turning a passive reader into a loyal fan. Here are some things to consider when writing the content section of your social media guidelines:

1. What topics will you post about? What is your desired ratio of self-promotion to helpful advice? (Hint: if you’re tweeting about your company or blogging about it in every post, you need to change your social media approach.) What will your mix of personal and business-related content be? If you're leaning towards 100% business content, remember that people do business with people they like and can relate to.

2. Will blog posts and status updates be written in first or third person? (Tip: choose first person – it’s more conversational, which is the entire point of social media.)

3. Where do hot topics like faith and politics fit in to your social media presence? If they're allowed, will there be a line on what can and can't be shared? What about profanity? I sometimes have quite a sailor's mouth, but in presentations and professional social media, I keep it G-rated out of respect for other people's beliefs. For others though, profanity fits well into their brand. Think this one through so that everyone in your company is on the same page.

4. What will your policies be on talking about companies other than your own? Will you only mention companies you have a material connection to (clients, suppliers, etc), or will you openly discuss companies that you find inspiring even if you compete with them? What about companies you dislike? We'll cover libel and defamation issues in another part of this series, but will it be okay for you or employees to share their disappointment in another company? What will your policies be on passive aggressive remarks?

5. Make sure your blog and social media content goals are included in this section so that all employees participating online know what you are trying to accomplish. For example, one of the goals at Splendid Communications is to produce content that causes people to "think splendid" or think differently about the way they’ve always done things. This means that our content is sometimes provocative, a bit controversial, and may not always sit comfortably with people. While this approach fits within the context of the Splendid Communications brand, it may or may not work for you. If your brand is focused on being happy-go-lucky or on the joy of weddings, then having an employee posting their unfiltered sarcasm may not be a good representation of your company online.

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