Welcome to the 21st century and congratulations on increasing your transparency by exposing your organization to the masses via social media; but now that you’ve made the decision, what do you do?
If you don’t have a designated social media manager, start small.
There are dozens of social media sites out there, and new ones are launching every day. Since Facebook and Twitter are the top two, begin there. Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Google Plus are additional websites that are gaining momentum, but it’s still not as popular (for organizations, at least), and you don’t want to waste resources. Use that time and energy to enhance content on the social media sites that you have the bandwidth for.
Create a social media policy.
Chances are that more than one staff member will be in charge of controlling your social media site(s). You must have a standard guideline of the “dos and don’ts” to keep employees and your audience on the same page of what’s allowed. The city of Seattle, Washington has a great in-depth social media policy that can be used as an example.
Stay away from automated social media software.
The reason people have decided to stay in touch with your organization is because they want to informally stay informed—preferably with a human! Those programs that automatically tweet updates from your website may seem like a time saver, but it can also be perceived as spam. Which one would you prefer to see?
“Road Closures Along Main Street. Drivers are asked to be cautious as city crews work to repair potholes in the… http://www.insertwebsite.com”
“Crews are busy fixing potholes along Main Street & 4th. Be on alert for detours in the area. More info: http://www.insertwebsite.com”
It takes a little more time to write the extra information, but your audience will be happy to know that a person (not a robot) is actually behind the scenes creating the content.
Respond, even to negative comments.
This is where social media isn’t so fun any more. There may be a time or two when you get unpleasant comments on your social media page. In those situations, always refer to your social media guide.
Remember, though, there’s a difference between negative feedback and an outright malicious comment. If the comment is completely against your organization’s adopted policy, it can be deleted. However, someone expressing frustration about trash at a city park, for example, could turn into an opportunity for your organization to show that it listens and responds to public concerns.
Social media is a great way to personify your organization, so have fun with it; but make sure you have these foundations in place before you launch!