Create a Bulletproof Brand with a Social Media Boot Camp
Social media marketing isn’t a task you can just assign to one employee; it’s a business-wide effort.
Anyone handling your business’ social media accounts needs clear direction on things like post topic, when to post, what tone to use, which conversations to become a part of and which hashtags are relevant in order to be successful.
We talked to Jill Shaw, a social media specialist at Infusionsoft, producers of CRM and marketing automation software for small businesses, about how small business owners can develop a social boot camp for employees.
Set Guidelines for Posting
Your employees need a strategy for posting on your pages; they’ll need to know the ins and outs of organic posts (the regular, unpaid posting to your business’ page).
Consistency across social platforms is critical, and that is best accomplished with a set of robust social media guidelines — but make sure they’re being followed. “If you set those guidelines and don’t monitor it, then the guidelines mean nothing,” Shaw says.
Guidelines should outline:
- The brand: everything from the persona to the brand voice
- Brand tone on social networks (i.e. what does your brand sound like? If your brand was a person, what would he/she be like and what would they say?)
- How to post
- Types of acceptable posts, per the brand’s social media strategy (i.e. trivia, polls, questions, quotes, etc.)
- How often to post
- Relevant hashtags for the business
Your company pages should have a good mix of your own content and external resources that inform and engage readers, and Shaw says to make sure a photo is attached to everything that’s posted, as it is much more likely to attract attention and engage readers. An example might be a motivational quote, internal update or image associated with a piece of content. Your team can also curate content and post from external sources, so long as it’s in line with the brand and industry.
Guidelines can be as specific as you’d like. For instance, with regards to images, you can mandate that any photos posted to the business’ account must be taken on a professional camera, rather than a phone. The brand’s projected image or personality should be clearly outlined in the guidelines so that employees don’t post off-brand content.
“Make your brand so clear that no one will question it,” says Shaw. “No one should have a question about what is or isn’t acceptable to post on your social channels.”
EXTRA TIP: Paid and sponsored posts are great for attracting new business and gaining greater online exposure, but they’re best handled by more seasoned social media professionals, so we don’t recommend including them in a basic social boot camp.
Business and Personal Accounts Mingle
During the social boot camp, be sure you cover how people should handle their personal profiles and accounts while being affiliated with your business. Facebook, Twitter and, especially, LinkedIn ask users for career/employment information, so by adding employment information to a personal profile, the user becomes tangentially aligned to your company.
Whether intended or not, once the connection is made, employees must be mindful about what they post to personal pages for the duration of their employment with your business.
“If you raise your hand and identify that you work somewhere, then whatever you’re posting or have to say should fall in line,” Shaw adds.
It’s almost impossible not to display work information on LinkedIn, so Shaw advises instructing employees to steer clear from anything political, religious or generally off-brand or taboo on that platform.
“If you’re going to put that you work somewhere on any platform, then what you say on that platform doesn’t need to be pro-company all the time, but it can’t be off-brand,” says Shaw.
On Facebook, Shaw recommends that if employees choose to say they work for your company, they must adhere to the same rules of not posting off-brand topics to their personal page. By choosing to keep employment off of a Facebook profile, then employees can feel free to post or comment on whatever they choose.
Tweak and Optimize Annually
Social media is constantly evolving, and your instruction should, as well. As a small business owner, you should hold annual social media boot camps to update whoever is posting on your pages about new algorithms, new company hashtags, social strategy and new positioning. Whatever has changed in your marketing goals in the past year should be reflected in your business’ social presence.
“Companies change over time, so you have to explain what has changed in the last year,” Shaw says.
Make sure to include updates on brand colors and messaging and always reinforce the importance of quality, engaging posts. The key to keeping employees on-brand is defining, monitoring and annually reinforcing what is expected on social channels. By making your brand’s voice, image, personality and strategy absolutely clear your employees won’t be able to question whether or not a post is acceptable.