For many companies social media plays an important role in helping to market and promote businesses. We’ve all heard about those marketing campaigns that ‘went viral’ within minutes of being launched and there are many start-up companies that have relied almost entirely on social media platforms to take them from the garden shed to city centre offices.

Given that social media can be such a powerful medium, why is it that so many companies still leave the management of their online campaigns to junior staff members? The automatic assumption must be that the next generation is far more knowledgeable about how the get the most from social media than their more mature colleagues.

Wrong. You would not leave the overall marketing and communications strategy to a trainee, so why would you leave such an important element to someone who is wet behind the ears? Given that an online post is treated in law as published material companies have to be very careful what is being written before the post is uploaded. Social media, from a corporate perspective, should be under the control of communications and PR teams, and companies need to treat every social media post just as carefully as everything else they produce.

Before every post is uploaded it needs to be checked to be relevant to the audience, it needs to be grammatically correct and there should be no spelling mistakes. Although there Advertising Standards Authority has no jurisdiction here, why not also ask if what you’re about to post is legal, decent and honest? Every online campaign also needs to dovetail with an overall company strategy so that there is consistency across all platforms, from brochures and print advertising, to websites, e-marketing and social media activity.

At least when you get home you can post whaever you like, right? Wrong, again, I’m afraid. With social media there is an unavoidable overlap between what might be seen as being a personal or private comment, and how this could impact on the day job or running a business. An offensive comment, inappropriate joke or anything that could be misinterprested could easily be read by bosses, suppliers or customers, with potentially devastating results.

So, what can we post? From a company perspective I suggest that posts should be factual and informative; they might be amusing but beware that humour often doesn’t work online. Special offers and time-sensitive deals are also fine, but as with any promotion such deals must be genuine and not full of catches.

From a personal point of view, it is not for me to suggest what subjects can and can’t be covered, but perhaps the ultimate test is this: whatever subject or person you’re about to write about before you hit the ‘upload’ button ask yourself how you would feel if you were to be on the receiving end of your post.

About

Simon has been running Opera PR for over 10 years and enjoys photography, mountainbiking, reading, cooking, politics and current affairs, he is also a bit of a Francophile.

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