Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Social media for corporate clients, and how to make it work

For many people, the idea of managing social media for a corporate client or brand – is a nightmare. Unlike creative and casual brands – the corporate side of things can be pretty daunting – as there seems to be so much more regulation and much stricter rules surrounding communication and publication.

We’ve all heard the horror stories surrounding corporate social media gone wrong – and we’ve seen brands and business fall because of it. Take a look at the recent Appleby’s fiasco – and you’ll start to understand what and incredibly daunting task corporate social media can be. There is a lots we can learn from disasters like this though, and believe it or not – corporate social media needn’t be as scary and as confusing as it initially may seem.

As with any other kind of social account – the key is to understanding your audience and understanding the brand too. Once you’re familiar with these aspects, you’re half way there. Here I’ve tried to outline a few tips to make the process easier:

1.     Understand your focus and voice

Every brand and business has a distinct voice and aim – and these both need to be identified and practiced before going any further. Sit your client down and discuss what they’re expecting from the social media accounts – and what their aims and what their voice is. Talking to them should give you an idea of this anyway – but it’s always great to get them talking about the voice and how they want their brand to be communicating. You also need to discuss what is a “no go” – what don’t they want to see on their social profiles? By highlighting the don’t this early on – it stops you tripping over later in the process when something is published or shared that they disagree with or that doesn’t comply with their regulations. Be thorough with this, and make lists – it sounds strict, but with corporate clients – you often have to be strict with outlines and guidelines as a means of protecting both yourself and the client.

2.     Schedule updates where possible

For many corporate brands, the idea of sporadic and spontaneous updates fills them with dread – as this is often where mistakes are made. If your client likes control – then offer it to them. There are loads of tools out there that offers scheduling functions for social media (Buffer being one of the most popular at the moment). This means you can schedule updates weeks (even months) ahead of time, which then allows them all to be sense checked by someone from client side. Having a double-checking system like this ensures that anything a bit un-fitting to the brand usually gets filtered out at some point, preventing any unfortunate mishaps that could potentially offend or confuse anyone.

3.     Interact with other businesses and brands

Social media is all about (you guessed it) being social. Because of this you need to identify brands and businesses you want to interact with. It’s good to actively promote others whilst on social media (and for corporate brands, it stops them looking too detached and removed – which is good).  Of course, you won’t want to be promoting any of your direct competitors, as the corporate world is a competitive one– so don’t be foolish here!

4.     Choose an appropriate platform

There are plenty of social media platforms you can choose from when it comes to social media marketing – so try not jump on the bandwagon and join every single one you find. Clever social media is about choosing the right platforms for you and ensuring you’re using them to your full advantage. For most corporate brands, LinkedIn is the safest option – as it’s a network specifically for those in business. So if you’re after a safe option, to ease your clients into social networking, LinkedIn is usually a smart place to start as it’s relatively risk-free. Other networks include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, MySpace and YouTube. But again, do your research first and ensure you’re choosing a platform that is the right fit.

5.     Try not to act corporate when communicating

Last (but not least) is the art of communication. Whilst corporate communication is very different from casual communication – you should never talk down to your followers, and you should never reel off any corporate buzz words that have been copied and pasted from some company guidelines. You need to remember that behind every profile is (more often than not) an actual person. If this actual person has taken the time to interact with your brand – you need to show them the same courtesy by giving them a personal reply. One of the mistakes Appleby’s made was copy and pasting the same replies different people – which of course got very annoying (and insulting) very fast. People deserve personal responses – so make sure you give them. 

Elle-Rose Williams is a freelance writer working with Who Is Hosting This, you can find out more about what she’s working on here