6 steps for establishing a strong social media policy during the pandemic

With the shifting media landscape during this crisis, it’s important for your entire team to have clear guidelines on how to share messages online. Here’s how to build your framework.

Social media on hand with blue background

With work from home orders still in place across much of the country, and phone lines and emails tied up with an influx of traffic, more consumers than ever before are turning to social media searching for answers or to air their frustrations.

Ideally, before you create an account, there should be a social media policy in place, both internal for the employees managing the account, and external so your customers know what is appropriate. However, if you’ve recently realized you’re lacking a policy, or it needs to be adjusted to the current environment, it’s a great time to implement new guidelines.

Here are some tips and considerations that can prevent sticky situations later on:

1. Create a code of conduct.

A Facebook fan page invites customers to share their thoughts and experiences—both positive and negative—but that doesn’t mean your brand has to become a victim to internet trolls on your own feed.

A fan page should be a place to share fun, positive and informative content about your brand, and this policy should be communicated to users. State that, as a company and moderator of the page, you reserve the right to delete any posts that contain material that is illegal, defamatory, harassing, or off-topic. Provide the contact information for customer service in your code of conduct policy and remind your fans that you are happy to help, and can offer better service offline.

2. Have a clear outline of what to post.

Determine a clear outline of what can and cannot be posted before you begin, such as images below a certain quality or color, or if you can post graphics and where to source them from. Additionally, guidelines should be in place for anything that is off-limits, such as clients who don’t want to be named publicly.

Stay in the know regarding current events, and consider how your post could be interpreted or deemed insensitive during a crisis. Whoever is managing the social media accounts should always remember they’re posting on behalf of the brand, not themselves. This means that they need to remove personal opinions and feelings from their posts. Guidelines like these ensure a cohesive feed that does not conflict with the brand or its image, and will help to avoid any confusion.

3. Engage followers with dialogue.

Your content should motivate your consumers to act. This might be to purchase your product or service, or simply engage with a post with a like or a comment. Including a question in your post is a great way to create a back-and-forth with your consumers, encouraging them to leave feedback and engage with the brand. This practice will increase your social media presence, and show customers you value their feedback.

When deciding on tone during the pandemic, there is plenty of content to post that doesn’t include marketing a service or product if the time is not right. This could include asking consumers how they’re spending their time at home. If the brand’s product or service has been a part of daily routine, ask for insight on what consumers would like to see once business resumes as usual, and share knowledge on an area in which your company might be considered professionals, such as skin care routines.

4. Respond to everything, as much as you can.

Show your consumers there’s someone on the other side of the screen reading and engaging with them by responding to their comments, especially if they’re expressing frustrations about finding it difficult to reach you through your other lines of communication.

It’s a good idea to respond to as many comments as possible, both positive and negative. In preparation, create a template of appropriate, pre-approved responses to choose from so there is less concern in a comment being misinterpreted.

The best practice is to respond to any comment in a timely manner. Within 24 hours is great, but the shorter that time frame, the better.

5. Move conversations off the feed.

If people have questions, concerns or negative feedback, it’s best for everyone to get to the bottom of the issue somewhere other than the comment section. Let them know you’ll reach out via direct message, or ask them to supply an email address. Ultimately this will show everyone you’re responsive and getting to the bottom of an issue, but you can do it in a more private and secure setting where you can collect more personal details.

6. Invest in social media monitoring.

Social media monitoring platforms provide insight into conversations taking place regarding your brand, giving you the opportunity to see consumer opinions even when they’re not directly posting to the brand’s social channels.

These monitoring platforms also provide the ability to track brand sentiment, as well as the brand’s share of voice, and how you might unknowingly be tied to current events. Insights like these will help social media teams determine what messages need to be, or how they should be communicated, while helping you address issues before they become a crisis.

Ronn Torosssian is CEO and founder of 5W Public Relations.

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