Q

Four steps to create a consistent social media voice

Companies can create a single social voice to engage customers by establishing cross-functional engagement roles and training employees with “actionable playbooks.”

How do I make sure there is a consistent voice from employees engaging in social media for our company? Is that even possible?

Every day more and more companies turn to social channels to connect with their customer bases, and that means a growing number of employees are directly engaging with those customers. A socially mature company no longer has just one person in marketing to manage its Twitter account or one person from public relations monitoring and responding to crises. As a result, companies need to scale from individual and unique conversations to enterprisewide social action with a consistent message. Businesses can do this through open dialogue, scalable engagement strategies, employee training and shared resources.

1. Define employee responsibilities through an open dialogue. Social media engagement applies to many parts of the organization, including marketing, PR, customer support and sales. Before a company can speak as one organization, employees must first come together to understand the larger organization’s needs. Successful companies today form task forces or central hubs that work cross-functionally to understand which team will take on which responsibilities for consistent engagement and a clear voice of the employee.

2. Establish a scalable engagement strategy. Once a team determines its responsibilities in social media, it must figure out how it will execute its social media strategy. These teams must define accountability, set standards for communications, plan for hypothetical situations and more. The best companies doing this today build “actionable playbooks,” detailing hypothetical situations and their preapproved responses. Through these playbooks, a company can add more employees to a social engagement strategy without the risk having an inconsistent voice.

3. Train employees on social engagement. Not all employees understand the nuances of social media, but this won’t stop them from wanting to engage with customers. Companies should set up consistent training -- teaching best practices for company-approved social media -- to the relevant employees. By providing the best information around social engagement, companies ensure their employees have the knowledge they need to be accountable for their actions when interacting online.

4. Share social technology access. There are many tools available today that simplify this problem. These tools offer dashboards with workflow, task assignment and action tracking so that even large companies can have their employees engage in social media, all through a consistent voice.

This was first published in November 2011

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