Tag Archives: Steve Nicholls

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10 Tips to Write a Social Media Policy in Business

Most business owners are now aware that having a social media presence is important for the success of their businesses. While social media presents unthinkable growth opportunity, it also opens the company up to risk.

Thus, it is critical for a business owner to create and implement a strong social media policy that gives the company and its employees the freedom to grow through social media, while putting a set of concrete rules and guidelines in place that will keep the troops in line.

However, when you consider that no two social media policies will be the same because different organizations will have their own unique environments, it is important to call in the experts.

Steve Nicholls, author of Social Media in Business, international speaker, and social media strategist offers 10 tips to write a clear, well-defined social media policy.

1. Create a Task Force: Opinions and ethics may vary between different people; it is preferable that all members of upper management be consulted when developing a social media policy so that all reach agreement on policy content.

2. Define Appropriate Internal Use: It is important to outline what is acceptable and what is not to your employees when it comes to using social media platforms in the workplace. How much freedom employees will have when interacting on social media needs to be clarified based on your workplace environment in order to avoid any confusion.

3. Define Appropriate External Use: As we have seen time and time again, one slip on Facebook or Twitter can ruin a career or a business. Thus, it is important to define who will be allowed to communicate with the public and put an approval process in place.

4. Confidentiality: Content posted on social media platforms need to comply with the organization’s confidentiality and disclosure of proprietary data policies.

5. Accountability: Employees need to be held accountable for everything they write on social media sites.

6. Protect Employers Reputation: Employees have the duty to protect their employer’s reputation. It would also be useful to make employees aware that competitors might read what they post and thus that sensitive information is not to be disclosed as a consequence.

7. Be Clear on Copyright issues: It is advisable to include a clause dealing with copyright, plagiarism, libel and defamation of character issues.

8. Regularly Review and Update Policy: Regular reviews need to be organized and performed. A policy is not always consistent with what is actually taking place and the company need to pay attention and adjust accordingly to make sure it is a relevant and effective policy that promotes growth and safety.

9. Work Hard, Play Less: It is important to stress that social networking sites cannot interfere with primary job responsibilities so that employees do not lose perspective

10. To Whom Does it Apply: The social media policy needs to clarify who to treat as internal staff and thus who will follow the social media policy rules when external resources are brought in.

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Use the ’10 Cs’ to create winning social media strategy

It is incumbent on business executives to stay ahead of the social media curve in order to compete efficiently in their respective industries.

However, when you consider where social media was just five years ago, it is impossible to imagine where it will be by 2020. This can be daunting for CEOs and other top executives who were not taught social media when they went to business school or worked their way up the ranks of their organizations.

Senior executives need to embrace social media and integrate it into the DNA of their entire organization.  It needs to align with the business goals and permeate throughout each division and employee in order to fully maximize the benefits.

In order to do this, Steve Nicholls, author of Social Media in Business, international speaker, and social media strategist offers a list of 10 Crucial C’s that will lay a foundation for senior executives to create a winning social media strategy

1.      Conversation: social media, at its core, is a conversation taking place online. People share content in all kinds of forms – words, videos, music and webinars amongst many other kinds – between each other. Passive intake of information is not the name of the game any longer; social media instead allows constant interaction and sharing of content between Internet-users.

2.      Coordination: coordinating projects across geographical boundaries and time zones is made much easier by social media. A project manager, for instance, has many business tools that he/she can use to manage and coordinate a project online between different participants, different locations and different time zones. Social media is like the glue bringing different parts of a project, or different projects, together.

3.      Cooperation: social media pairs very well with cooperation as it allows more cooperation to take place between different participants in a project, job or office, amongst other contexts. As we just saw, social media is by definition the sharing of information, this means that by definition, it is a cooperative process, and this cooperative process, transposed onto a business context, has much potential.

4.      Communication: social media creates and enhances communication amongst a company’s staff, between staff and clients, between sales and customers and between upper and lower management, to give just a few examples. Social media thus generates and develops communication both internally – within a company – and externally, between a company and external players in the business. Also, it allowed both formal and information communication to take place, where the fomer is owned by the organization and the latter by the employees. Maagemetn however needs to be cautious not to push information communication underground by attempting to control it.

5.      Collective intelligence: user-generated online content equates to business intelligence for companies. Taking advantage of this information is invaluable leverage and can help a company improve and perform better by accessing new ideas, finding solutions and getting feedback of its business directly from customers or clients. Moreover, this kind of business intelligence can be collected at virtually no cost, which means that companies have the opportunity to gain business insight in a highly cost-effective way.

6.      Communities: social media allows a company to find, create and interact with pools of customers, clients, suppliers and even competitors, amongst other key players in a given business. Communities can take shape both internally, within a company’s employees for instance, and externally, between a company and its clients for example. Taping into communities is a very efficient way to reach as many people as possible in a very fast, inexpensive and efficient way.

7.      Collaboration: social media helps creating more efficient collaboration between co-workers, partners and stakeholders. Social media facilitates teamwork through a range of tools that can be managed across geographical limits. This can take place between employees, teams and departments, but also between bilateral groups like business/customers, business/suppliers or business/stakeholders.

8.      Content: social media is all about sharing content. Through social media tools, you can create, share, change and have access to all kinds of content. It is this freedom in generating and sharing content that makes social media so powerful. This is what makes it possible for someone working from an attic somewhere to create a ‘viral video’ about a particular food recipe that will reach millions across the globe, for instance.

9.      Context: it is the context that will define how a social media project will take shape. Looking at a company’s business environment, company culture and business goals, for instance, will shape a social media project according to the specific business context in which the company operates. This will prevent companies from going enthusiastically in the wrong direction and adopt a social media project that has no beginning or end.

10.  Culture: culture is a crucial component that will determine how successful a social media project can be. A company culture generally fits somewhere between a closed to open continuum, and the more open it is, the more a company will have the freedom to take advantage of social media. Opening a company’s culture is perhaps the single most important thing to do in order to engage with social media project. Banning social media is not a solution anymore, even autocratic political regimes have failed to do so, but using it within a conducive but regulated cultural framework is the ideal response to the Internet revolution.

Steve Nicholls is the author of the best-selling “Social Media in Business,” international speaker, and social media strategist who helps business executives implement a winning social media strategy into their organization. 

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10 tips to succeed at social media

Every business knows about social media, many businesses have some sort of social media presence, but very few have implemented a comprehensive and successful social media strategy that maximizes benefits and mitigates risks.  Why is this? The answer is simple: The Three “C’s”.

Steve Nicholls, author of the best-selling book “Social Media in Business” (www.SocialMediaInBusiness.com), explains that most businesses take an approach to social media that is often too narrow.  They are far too worried about Content and not focused enough on Context and Conditions.

They view social media solely based on Facebook or Twitter Content which they believe is just a marketing, PR and website function.  But to be truly successful, social media needs to be implemented at the senior level and trickle down into the DNA of the entire organization as a core competence.

Senior leaders must understand the Context of the environment in which social media operates.  This means understanding their industry, their competition and their internal environment.  Then they must be responsible for creating the Conditions necessary for its successful implementation in their organization.

Of course, Facebook and Twitter will be an integral part of any good strategy but in today’s business community there must be a more holistic approach to answer the tough questions executives are faced with, such as:

How does this help achieve my business goals? What are the benefits and how do I manage the risks?  How do I write a social company-wide media policy, enforce it and update it? How do I get everybody on the same page?

Nicholls offers the following ten tips to help business leaders understand The Three C’s and succeed in social media:

1. Get with the Program: Social media is here to stay.  Think of how far it has come in the last five years and then imagine where it will be in the next five.  Embrace it or be left behind.

2. Be the architect, be the Leader: As the CEO or leader you need to create a vision of what social media looks like for your entire organization – just like an architect has a model of the building that he is going to construct.  Really support social media at the senior level not just the people that look after your web site.

3. Understand the Culture and Mindset: Defense contractors, for instance, will have more of a closed culture because of the nature of their business as compared to a company with a Silicon Valley feel to it.   Opening a company’s culture is perhaps the greatest challenge a CEO faces. Banning social media is not a solution any longer, even autocratic political regimes have failed to do so, but using it within a conducive yet regulated cultural framework is the ideal response to the Internet revolution.

4. Create a Common Language: This is crucial so that everyone company-wide knows their part and what they are trying to achieve. Create a common language so that everyone can participate in the discussion, not a just a few experts who know the jargon.

5. Achieve your business goals: Create social media goals in the context of how they will achieve the business goals. The organizational goal could be to increase the repeat customer percentage in order to increase revenue by X %. Another goal could be to have a more effective customer relationship management strategy. You need to develop the social media strategy to support your goals.

6. Understand ALL the Benefits: Most view social media as a way to interact directly with customers.  In addition to that function, there are other business opportunities that can benefit your company both internally and externally through communication, collaboration, collective intelligence and community opportunities.

7. Avoid the Dangers of the Dark Side: Social media can open a company up to danger and risk including security issues, PR issues and HR issues.  While these risks are very real, it is essential not to let them inhibit progress.  Social media is too important in global culture.  The key is to develop a sound social media policy that identifies the risks and mitigates them.

8. Craft a Strong Social Media Policy: Work with legal and social media experts to develop a safe and effective social media policy that makes clear what is and is not acceptable. This will protect the organization and the employees while maximizing benefits and mitigating risks.  Just because a policy is written does not mean it will be followed.  Many “unwritten” rules will take shape and the company needs to be vigilant and continuously reshape policy to match what is happening “on the ground”.

9. Have a step-by-step formula: A winning social media strategy will be one that is adaptable, implemented step-by-step and is an ongoing model within the context of the organization that sets the right conditions for successful implementation.

10. Time: Rome was not built in a day and the same goes with social media.  Time is the most significant cost. Implementing a social media project hastily may bring more problems than benefits, which is why CEOs need to weight the time factor properly and make sure the project is carefully studied before and during its application.