Social media is a topic regularly covered by a range of commentators, from media people to legal experts, all of whom have handy tips on how to get your brand known and what to bear in mind while doing so. If there is one voice to listen to above all others however, it’s that of a leading industry body and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has published a best practice guide on this very topic. Of course some people argue that social media by its very nature changes extremely quickly and therefore it’s difficult to stay informed. That’s not a convincing argument - there are always core principles and legal considerations to take into account when implementing this type of activity and here are some of the CIPR’s top tips to keep you on the straight and narrow, particularly if you’re a beginner:
- Remember that social media is about building dialogues with stakeholders, which means having conversations rather than pushing information out one way, advertising-style
- Ensure brand consistency in terms of tone and style across every network and platform so audiences can identify and engage with your business / you as an individual
- Disclose relationships when endorsing an organization / client / customer. (This is critical because it could soon land you in hot water if you don’t disclose any financial interest you may have). If you’re tweeting or retweeting client news, add [client] at the end of the tweet. If you regularly tweet on behalf of your workplace, list your employer’s name in the biography section of your Twitter profile
- If you manage a Twitter account, Facebook fan page or a YouTube channel on behalf of another individual, you should state that you typically manage that channel for them. If you do it for an organization, the vested interest is assumed so a declaration is preferable but not necessary
- If you’re ghostwriting content, make sure an approval process is outlined and agreed at the start so nothing is made public without full sign off
- Correct errors openly and in a timely fashion. The CIPR advises tackling an online crisis as soon as possible to stop it escalating out of control
- Add a ‘views are my own’ disclaimer where appropriate
- Be upfront about conflicts of interest and paid for opportunities. This means that if you’re recommending a service supplier, make extra effort to make readers aware if there is a financial interest or partnership link in place.
So, there are plenty of ‘do’s’ to follow, but there are also some things you shouldn’t forget. For example, don’t:
- Forget that a social media presence becomes part of a brand legacy – posts, pictures, images, tweets, status updates and content in general can stay online forever so think about what message to share
- Make an audience feel uncomfortable
- Bring an organization into disrepute – check out your contract and / or your employer’s own social media policy as it will help you understand the boundaries to work within
- Reveal company sensitive information or intellectual property – unless specific permission has been granted, it is in the public interest to do so or you are required to do so by law.
This article was based on sections of the CIPR Social Media Best Practice Guide with the kind permission of the CIPR. The document itself is much more comprehensive and covers legal considerations, employers’ guidance, social media measurement and provides helpful links to additional information. To learn more about the CIPR, its best practice guidance and the benefits of joining, visit www.cipr.co.uk.