Why marketers need to create social media guidelines

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If you are a marketing executive, you need to be actively involved in shaping your company’s employee social media guidelines.  I know from experience.  I’m the Razorfish vice president of marketing and keeper of the Razorfish social media guidelines, which we updated recently and made publicly available on September 24.  (We call them Social Influence Marketing guidelines in keeping with how our business views social media and influencers as intertwined.)  Here is what you will find out if you jump into the social media pool and start swimming:

  • You are highly qualified to have a leadership role.  Social media is about transparent communication among several communities.  Marketing & communications professionals understand better than anyone the intersection of community, communication, and your company’s reputation.
  • Your employees are going to talk about your company using social media with or without your participation.  That said, employees are open to your participation so long as you take a collaborative approach.  Employees appreciate guidance on matters such as company disclosure and what to do about flaming blog posts.  So take a leadership role or get out of the way.
  • You will learn more about your brand than you think you know. Your employees are your brand.  What they say about your company on Twitter and Facebook mirrors the conversations they have about you elsewhere.  Creating social media guidelines will force you to better understand your employees, their views, and their ideas.  Even better, you can make your brand a more authentic reflection of your company culture by learning from your employees’ Tweets, blog posts, and conversations that occur in the social world.
  • You’ll become a better marketer.  Who says social media is a threat to the marketing executive?  The development of Razorfish guidelines has made me better at my job.  I’ve become a blogger and a more active participant in the social world, which has made me more connected to the marketplace and Razorfish.  No longer do I feel like a coach dispensing advice from the sidelines; I’m an active participant.  It’s good for marketing executives to get your hands dirty.
  • You’ll make mistakes.  And sometimes embarrassing ones.  But you’ll learn that a dose of humility is good for you.  One of my biggest mistakes has been getting too hung up about criticisms made about Razorfish in the blogosphere — sometimes by Razorfish employees.  Yes, your employees are going to say some things you don’t like.  And they’re going to do so in a very transparent way.  I’ve learned to take a step back and ask “What can I learn from this criticism?”
  • You’ll become more valuable to your company.  Razorfish counsels our clients on Social Influence Marketing, or utilizing social influencers and social media to meet their business and marketing objectives.  Not surprisingly, our clients expect us to practice what we preach.  I’m helping Razorfish do just that, and it all started by the formulation of our social guidelines a few years ago (what we published today is simply the latest version).  I’m also finding that client teams are asking me for advice on development of clients’ social media guidelines and related issues.  Anytime a marketer does something that puts you more in touch with your clients’ needs directly, you’re heading down the right path.
  • You’ll become more collaborative.  The guidelines were created in collaboration with Amy Vickers, head of our Enterprise Solutions practice; Ray Velez, leader of our technology community; and Shiv Singh, in charge of our Social Influence Marketing practice; and with input from our Human Resources and Legal/Privacy teams.  And now the guidelines are getting improved with feedback from Razorfish employees.  (They have a way of keeping you honest.)

How about you?  What have you learned?  And speaking of collaboration, how can we make the Razorfish social media guidelines better?

10 thoughts on “Why marketers need to create social media guidelines

  1. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Superhype » Blog Archive » Why marketers need to create social media guidelines [superhypeblog.com] on Topsy.com

  2. Nice Post David. And timely too. 🙂 I\’m currently going through educational presentations on social media and SIM scores within my company.

    Along with compliance and legal, executive buy in is so essential to the success of social media initiatives. Your post helps to further illustrate these points.

    So thanks!

  3. Thank you Steve and Dave! Dave, I agree completely about the importance of executive buy-in — and participation, too. Our CEO Bob Lord has set the right example by being on Twitter (@rwlord).

  4. People doesn\’t care how much you know until they know you care and stepping your way into the crowd means a lot. I couldn\’t said it any better in stepping back a bit (personally admitting your mistakes is 2 steps forward) to understand your employees and better product or service.

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