Social media best practices for representing an organization

Photo copyright Arjun Suri Photography
In a live concert, the artist gets instant feedback for his/her performance, which is not the case with a pre-recorded gig. (Photo courtesy Arjun Suri Photography)

Introduction

I am an IT guy, who admires Social Media significantly. It is one of those areas where lives of several people have been made easier via Computers. The element I appreciate the most is the way it has made it easier for end user to interact with his/her favourite brands.

As I observe organizations around me using Facebook and Twitter for reaching out to people, I see areas where I feel they are going right, as well as areas where I feel they are going wrong. Based on self observation, I have penned down my views in this article. Alongside few points I have shared some links that I felt would help in illustrating them.

I am assuming that you, the reader, have basic knowledge of what Social Media is and know how to use Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter and Facebook.

Hup two three four, here we go!

1. Its a two-way communication. An integral aspect of Social Media is that people can reply back immediately, unlike print media. If people aren’t happy with what they experienced, they’d let you know ASAP. If you use your account just to talk about yourself or your products, without paying attention to what people have been talking about, then it is akin to watching an advertisement on TV.

Check out these links
The arrogance accorded by one way communication
Why I Like Capgemini India’s presence on Facebook

2. Maintain a positive tone. Don’t crib, don’t cry. Remember, your actions are representative of your organization, not just that of an individual. The end user feels as if s/he is communicating with a brand, not Mr. or Ms. XYZ. You need to paint a picture that’d enhance the market value of your organization. It’s a fact that optimists are perceived in a more receptive way compared to pessimists (a pessimist might feel otherwise).

Check out these links
Specific instances of Social Communication and how brands can deal with them (do check point number 2)
Nestle’s Cardinal Sin

3. Be careful about what you write, for it remains written for a long, long time. Write in a composed state of mind, so that knee-jerk reactions don’t go in. Else you might have to delete the content later and offer a public apology.

Check out these links
How NOT to use Twitter for an online campaign – the Classmate example
Is UTV’s Bindas TV on a Social Media Harakiri Mission

4. Do not block abusive people, do not abuse them back. To whatever extent, ignore them, and if you have to then respond in a polite tone. Some people end up taking trolls personally, which should be avoided. Consider this as playing a game with fixed set of rules.

Take a look at Sachin Tendulkar, no matter whatever is written against him, be it recent claims by Shoaib Akhtar or the never ending talks of retirement due to “out of form”, you’d never hear hitbacks from him or his PR. It helps that Sachin has always let his bat do the talking, thus responding back by focusing on his job.

Check out this link
Brand bashing by Social Media stars – a perspective (do check point number 5)

5. Make use of hashtags, link to profiles of relevant users. Makes it easier for readers to comprehend what you are talking about. On twitter, if you have a link attached to your tweet, the user would open it only if its headline appears attractive enough. Most people follow a long list of accounts, so a lot of tweets appear on their timeline. They cannot open all the links that appear, hence you have to craft your stuff attractively to make them do that.

Check out these links
A tweet on official Windows Twitter account.
A tweet on official Microsoft Twitter account.
A tweet on official Hotmail Twitter account.
A tweet on official Xbox Twitter account.

6. Be careful about spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. It appears unprofessional on your organization’s part, that they didn’t invest enough resources in proof reading, and even if they did then it looks like a sham that they let this through. Any Social Media campaign is as strong as its weakest component.

Check out this link
Should brands talk like dis just coz its twitter?

7. Refrain from discussing controversial stuff. Safest route is to stick to features offered by your product/organization, don’t discuss anything else. Writing something controversial often results in organizations landing up in a legal mess.

8. Never take jibes at anyone. Be it your colleagues, competitor, public figure, etc. Do not engage in mud-slinging on a public domain. If you wish to know why, then try it yourself. Later on, don’t come to me saying that I didn’t warn you.

9. On twitter, acknowledge the more graceful tweeters, if possible then follow them back and give a follow friday too. If a genuine fan shows appreciation towards you, then you need to echo that back. Not only would it make them feel special, but also encourage other users to actively engage with your brand.

“The key to developing people is to catch them doing something right” – Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.

10. If you have created accounts on Facebook / Twitter / Google+, then maintain all of them diligently. I’ve seen organizations who spend energy only in maintaining their Facebook account, the ones following them on Twitter end up missing the real action.

Some organizations interlink Twitter and Facebook accounts, so that all updates get reflected across. Issue occurs when they don’t check back one of these accounts, to see what people have been talking about them. Then again, it essentially becomes a one-way communication on that platform.

Check out this link
5 lessons from Woodland’s Social Missteps

11. On twitter, make use of favorites. so that if people want to see your best tweets, they can do so quickly. This is helpful when say you have 1000+ tweets on your profile, including replies. So when your followers want to know something more critical, they can see the top 10-20 ones easily.

In case your followers have to provide information that they can’t share publicly, like mobile number, then you can enable option using which your followers can send you Direct Message, without the need for you to follow them back.

A little asthetic sense helps, especially when you use the right set of images as background plus profile picture, make use of the right applications for Facebook, the overall design looks attractive to most end users, etc.

Bottom line is that whatever tool you are using, make sure you are well-versed with all the features offered by it, so as to extract optimal results from it.

Check out these links
Rahul Khanna’s list of favorites on his twitter profile
Tata DoCoMo’s twitter profile, where followers can send them a Direct Message
Microsoft Xbox Support, Guinness World Record Holder for Most Responsive Brand on Twitter

12. Do not flood timeline by retweeting all the good stuff that public is saying about you. If someone appreciates your work or your organization’s products, then give them an individual reply. If you wish to retweet user feedback, then do that with negative ones as well.

Check out this link
The incestuous nature of self praise on twitter retweets

13. In case you wish to experiment before putting these to practical use, then you can create a profile for something that may not be related to your work but is something that you feel comfortable with. Play around and try whatever features you can. Once you get used to the basics, you can move on to the next step. In IT we call this analogy as running the application on a test enviornment before running it on production.

Check out this link
Revelation from Kraft Foods and Paul Miser (do check the last paragraph)

Conclusion

Article ends, but Social Media doesn’t. Do send me your feedback, otherwise what’d be the difference between my article on the internet versus my article printed on paper?

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3 thoughts on “Social media best practices for representing an organization

  1. Yaju Sir Good Tips…
    Everyone Should Follow this useful Tips Before Using Social Networking Websites.

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