We all know social media offers your brand an important way to engage stakeholders in an immediate and authentic way. Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat and other channels increase visibility, build relationships and create brand ambassadors. But given the power of every message, that immediacy and authenticity carries a hefty reputation risk.
With the right planning and tools, including response protocols and message maps, experts who understand your brand’s identity can authentically post and respond quickly to trends, current events and comments from followers. Your social media presence can serve as a seamless extension of your brand values, even if it is managed beyond your four walls.
Many companies don’t have the internal expertise or the time needed to monitor and respond to social media in our 24/7 world. There are plenty of external experts that can help – but how do you hand off that significant responsibility in a way that lets you sleep at night? The answer is: thoughtful and thorough planning and development of trust with the right, experienced partner.
With the right plan in place, your community management team can be well-positioned to serve as an extension of your business, 24/7. Your partner can develop and share organic posts day-to-day, respond to followers quickly, help create and activate campaigns and support paid content amplification.
The best place to start is to ensure a shared understanding of the business and its marketing goals overall. With this information in mind, the team can work together to develop a social media strategy that works with and supports that particular business. Social media should not be approached with a cookie cutter. Who are the audiences? Which of those are most important to the business? What are key brand tenants? Are you using the most effective channels to reach those audiences?
Similarly, it is important to establish a consistent tone of voice. Is the brand playful or professional? Does it employ humor or is it formal? Should emojis be employed or off limits? What about graphics, videos, and photos? What performs best and how will you optimize throughout the year?
Once the overall strategy is agreed upon, Mastermind Marketing finds it helpful to develop two key items. First, a protocol that allows the elements of all posts to be reviewed prior to going out. Second, a detailed messaging map that guides posts, responses, escalation (if needed) and engagement. Considering potential situations, the team as a whole can agree in advance on how best to respond in a way that establishes consistency. For example, if a customer uses Facebook to raise a concern, the brand’s response should feel as if it was tailored to the issue at hand. Mastermind has found that with proper planning and a thorough understanding of the brand values, the community management team (whether that be internal or external) can react quickly in the vast majority of scenarios. This allows a brand to be responsive to each customer in an authentic way while helping the customer to feel heard and valued.
Building and maintaining trust requires open dialogue. Ensure that expectations between you and your partner are shared and understood. Here are some questions to ask: What is the goal for response time? How will you track progress towards that goal? What types of comments should be hidden, deleted or ignored? If there is uncertainty about a specific comment or situation, the social media partner should never guess. The question should be flagged for the client immediately with a recommendation.
Mastermind believes that it is important to have complete trust in your social media partner. After all, they will be representing you and impacting your reputation.
A few years ago, one of our clients was attending a CMO conference. His peer was in the midst of a major social media crisis – poor response time and even worse response. When asked how he deals with social issues his answer was simple, “I don’t have to worry. We have experts who understand our brand, and they have simple processes in place for immediate responses. If escalation is needed, they notify me.”
We work hard to earn our clients trust every day, night and over the weekend. We are honored to help clients of Fortune 50 brands in every corner of the world sleep well at night.
Mike Gelfond is President at Mastermind Marketing, Inc.