Successful corporate strategies must take into account the opportunity to gain exposure to growing social media audiences. Managing this effectively calls for the adoption of proven best practices.

The Society for New Communications Research conducted a year-long study on corporate blogging and social strategies. The result was a list of best practices that can help businesses make an impact across all their social media platforms.

Key factors

Six of these guidelines emerged as having the greatest importance in developing company social guidelines:

1. Corporate culture: Encourage a policy of open communication that includes respect for and willingness to listen to ideas from customers, employees, and influencers.

2. Trust: Employees must be trusted in creating strong relationships with customers. Do not exercise restrictive or formulaic edits. Trust social teams to convey authenticity by communicating in their own way.

3. Train employees: Contributing personnel should be coached in company blogging, including legal issues, relevant topics, and basic content generation skills. Make participation voluntary to get more inspired results.

4. Provide transparency: Visibility into your blogging practices is important to maintaining confidence. Any connections to customers, commercial interests, or personal relationships related to each post should be disclosed.

5. Ensure accuracy: Be certain any facts given are accurate and up-to-date. Any posts that quote verbal statements should be approved by the source, and content affecting partners and colleagues should be cleared with them before publishing.

6. Feedback: Develop policies regarding comments and publish them on the blog. Allowing only positive comments can seem dishonest, but negative feedback that’s clearly inappropriate should be restricted. When derogatory comments are left, make an effort to reach out to the commenter to address the problem. Let all customers know that you appreciate their feedback

Best practices for social media marketing:

Legacy policies: For the smoothest implementation, start by building on existing employee and communication guidelines. Then ensure that resources are in place to support new bloggers.

New policies: Involve bloggers in developing the new guidelines. Share guidelines with audiences as well as employees. Allow for future integration of content such as video, podcasts, and more.

Legal issues: If your company has a legal team, consult with them. Be sure employees understand that it’s better to post nothing than to risk breaches of trust.

Internal communications: If your company has an employee communications team or advisor, invite their input.

Ownership: Establish whether the blog will represent the views and opinions of the individual bloggers or the company itself.

Criticism: Include opportunities to provide constructive criticism, such as peer review or management approval, that lead to open discussion.

Response to comments: Set up a process that allows you to respond to comments and questions as promptly as possible within established guidelines.

Take responsibility: Admit it when mistakes are made. Be willing to make amends and resolve ongoing problems, from simple apologies to changes in policy.

Confidential info: In most cases, confidential information should be deleted rather than publically exposed. Explain why you chose to delete it.

Podcasts and videos: Employees should understand that mp3 files and videos are of a more permanent nature and harder to remove. Due caution should be exercised.

Social platforms: The same guiding policies should apply to all social media networks where you maintain a presence, rather than multiple policies addressing each one.

Privacy: Develop and publish privacy policies regarding the use and protection of any user information. Be sure employees understand what type of information should not be shared.

Respect followers: Appreciate the fact that your audience is composed of perhaps thousands of unique individuals. Respect everyone’s opinion and confidentiality.

Respect competition: Avoid mentioning business competitors in a negative manner. Promote respect for your industry.

Track results: If you announce a new product or service, monitor audience response and how much revenue is generated in that quarter.

Sources: If you reference facts, websites, or other informational sources, cite the original source by including a link.

Tools: Provide access to a single platform for consistency. Alternatively, provide a list of approved blogging platforms.

Understand that developing a strong blogging/social strategy isn’t a simple task. The ability to adapt to change and make improvements as you go are important to long-term success.