One of the biggest fears of enabling an organisation to use social media is giving free reign over the channels.
Having managed social media channels for large, publicly accountable organisations myself, I know how stressful this can be. Not just for the administrator or the team responsible for digital engagement, but also for those who are expected to use it.
Not everyone is comfortable with being asked to use social media as a way of communicating with the public and it is this disquiet that can often lead to a lack of use and engagement - ultimately harming the reputation of the organisation. Messages go unanswered, public feeling can be missed and complaints are perceived to be ignored (read more about handling complaints here).
Conversely, there are those that enjoy using social media so much in their private life that it's sometimes difficult to differentiate between the two and there are often cases of well-meaning yet questionable postings and comments made that are seen to be representing the organisation they work for.
Striking a balance can be difficult, but doesn't need to be if a few simple things are in place;
- Easy to use and understand guidelines. One page should do it - there's no need for policy-type heavy documents to be created. Be as permissive as possible without losing sight of the intention of social media. It needs to be dynamic and flexible
- Remove the fear of making a mistake. Fear leads to people freezing. If they are fearful of 'getting in to trouble' by posting something that's slightly amiss, they won't post at all. Do what you can to reassure them that mistakes happen, but it's not the end of the world
- Support people. There needs to be a culture of allowing people to ask questions and expect guidance when they need it - people will look to you, so don't make them feel they can't
- Don't expect everyone to do it. Some people simply don't work well on social media - but they might be better face to face or on the phone. Choose the right person for the right medium. Being forced to do something you are not comfortable with will only end in tears for all concerned.
We created training mode in MusterPoint to enable those responsible for social media management to have an oversight of new users or those getting used to using social media in their role. This two way system allows for dynamic training of users whilst the organisation can have an oversight of what they are posting. This gives control to the organisation whilst providing support to the user.
Feedback is vital when people feel under-confident, so with training mode you can help people grow by moderating anything they post. You choose if it goes live or needs editing and you can give feedback. What's key is that the user can post without fear of causing a reputational catastrophe. When you feel they are ready to go live, you simply take them out of training mode. It really is that simple.