Despite the hold outs, we know that social media is here to stay especially for small businesses in these times. It does seem like finally almost everyone is jumping on the bandwagon and starting to get the idea. You better get involved in social in some way or your business will be left behind. Plus for a small business, social media marketing can be a low cost alternative to traditional media.
Even if a company or brand is not 100% ready to begin a social media marketing plan, at DragonSearch we always advise that every business is at least keeping their eyes out for the big three of social media basics: monitoring the brand in the social networks, creating a social media policy for clear and transparent understanding, and reserve the company name space and preserve the digital footprint for the future.
Maybe you have sat and stared at the sea of social media marketing long and hard before you jumped into the water. Maybe you did your research and first set up a social media policy for your business or organization so everyone in your organization is on board. Hopefully, you have been monitoring your brand’s name for social mentions and now you are ready to build relationships with the customers already talking about you. But maybe, the world started moving you along in a direction before you were even aware of it, before you got to step three, claiming your name space for your brand. I don’t know how many clients come to us and are completely unaware that they already have a Facebook page or a YouTube account in their business name.
When a new or potential client comes to DragonSearch for social media marketing services the first thing we do is look to see where there are previously existing accounts. Often, an employee is only thinking to do something good for their company and they set up some sort of social media account in the business name. The problem is that not only are these accounts not authorized, but they are unbranded, speaking with mixed messages and generally confusing. Even when a person in the company is tasked with the position of building the business social media accounts, they frequently will build them on their personal business emails and with passwords that are memorable only to them. And then, that person leaves the company. Their email is then retired and their password goes with them. There are few things worse than finding a Twitter or YouTube account with the perfect company name abandoned and left unattended by an employee long gone. It’s not easy to get control of the accounts again and it really stinks to have a Facebook page with 800 organic likes and no way to capitalize on them because no one has control of the page!
While Twitter does have certain controls in place for trademarked terms, it’s not like many people can call up YouTube or some anonymous person with a dead end email address and ask for their name back. Many social networks are on a first come first served basis. If your business happens to have a cool sounding name that some other person decided to use, you might just be out of luck.
Or, even more common, an employee legitimately lists their company affiliations on Facebook or LinkedIn. While connecting to ones employment is a positive social networking technique, if the spelling is slightly off or a common brand name is used rather than the parent company’s official name, then the social networks register the names as separate businesses. Plus, the number of other networks that Facebook alone is pulling information from is growing. Each one of those (Bing, Localeze, Wikipedia) might have your business or brand listed and then Facebook turns all those listings into a page or place. It’s not unusual to find many variations of the same business on Facebook or LinkedIn without any employees connected properly and most certainly not networked!
Some simple steps can make it much easier to create, manage and control your company’s social media profiles:
The best bet is to make it with an official @yourbusinessurl.com. Some social media networks will not let anyone create official business accounts without the branded email. You can’t build a company profile on LinkedIn without one and you can’t claim your business “place” listing on Facebook without it. Even Twitter demands an official email if they are reassigning a branded account to an official business.
At DragonSearch, we call this email the “Working Email.” An email dedicated to social networking has many positive benefits that make everything much easier. You’re not giving away an email address attached to a person and all their other correspondence attached. It is much easier to transfer the responsibility of managing the social media marketing from one employee to another, from one department to another, or from one agency to another.
Using a dedicated social media email account also allows for many people to access the profiles. When everyone in the company knows the social profile access, it allows the work maintaining the accounts to be shared by the appropriate departments. Public relations can share press releases, human resources can post job opportunities, advertising can share videos, the personalities or public face of the brand can tweet during events. etc. On top of that upper management can daily access accounts to see what is happening and mistakes can be corrected in a timely manner.
If you can’t imagine what can be avoided if many people have the ability to access the accounts, imagine what can happen if they don’t. Say your marketing department person who manages your social posts a huge sale on Facebook and then goes camping for the weekend. Now imagine if it said 100% off rather than 10% and no one could fix it. Now imagine that once discovered (five minutes after the social guy gets out of cell range), it could be easily corrected. Imagine the money saved just by knowing the email and password.
A dedicated email for social accounts makes it much easier to sign in and out of the social networks. Having to remember, or not remember and having to look up, ask or try 15 different email address and password combinations just to share an article on twitter wastes a whole slew of productive time.
Having a single dedicated social media email also will keep duplicate accounts from being created. Most social networks are based off a single email and if that email has already been used to create an account, then it will recognize the email and not allow it to be used to create a new profile. So if employee A makes a new Tumblr account on Monday, then employee B will be alerted to that fact on Wednesday when they try to create one even if employee A forgot to share the information. Again, it sure saves on wasted productive time. Building new profiles take time, so why do it twice?
It also makes it easy to check and see if a network already has an account created. While we haven’t touched on documenting yet, with so many new places coming out every day and so many opportunities to comment and share, it’s only human to forget every once in a while. Maybe the New York Times had a great article six months ago that the CEO commented on while surfing on a Sunday Afternoon. Now, the head of marketing can go in and comment on a new industry related story without thinking twice. It doesn’t matter who or when the account was created; they can easily get into it.
A dedicated social media email also makes it simply to recover a lost password. Once again, everyone knows that every account is made with the same email, so that’s the only email to use to send the password reminder to.
Of course, the dedicated email account is only one part of the equation. The other half of all logins and social media network access is the dreaded password.
Just as there should be one single email dedicated to social media there should be one single password associated with the accounts. For all the same reasons above, the password used should be somewhat simple and easy for many to remember. As many social networks have different password requirements, it’s good to incorporate a capital letter, a number, and a special character like GoodProducts211, but try not to get more complicated than that. There is nothing worse than a password so convoluted that it seems like a CIA operative created it or having 14 social media accounts with 14 different CIA created passwords created by 14 different people.
All the social media accounts should have the same password with one exception; the password used for the email access should be different, memorable, but different for security reasons. It’s much harder to hack a public account when you can’t access the email used to reset the password. When you use the same social account password, and many people accesses it on many different accounts, the different password on the email will keep any unauthorized users out. In addition, depending on the reach of your social networking, it could be beneficial to change the main working email social password frequently such as changing out the number to reflect the months or another internal system that everyone is aware of. On the same token, there are times when the passwords do have to be changed on a large scale such as when an employee leaves under less then favorable circumstances. Again, on a productive note, switching out passwords is a better job for an intern rather than a mid level marketing manager.
Of course, some passwords might get left behind, so the way to avoid that is social media account management documentation.
At DragonSearch, we have multiple employees accesses multiple social media accounts with multiple emails and passwords. There is no way this could be accomplished without simple documentation. A simple spreadsheet can document the social accounts made, their urls, the email used to create the account, the password, who created it, when it was created and any notes. If you don’t happen to have share networking in the offices, then a shared Google document makes communication even easier. Then everyone can access it, everyone can add to it and everyone can get information off of it.
Consider this the very first lesson in your social networking training! If you fill out this spread sheet properly using your social media networking email and passwords, then you will be well on your way to a well thought out social presence online for your business.
I’ll admit, my favorite part of a well documented spreadsheet is that when you don’t want to handle you community management in-house anymore or need strategic social media processes, you can just send me that spreadsheet attached to one single email and I can continue working on your accounts without missing a beat. And you can easily partake in your own business social media networking, see what we are doing and combine the efforts within house staff too. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Or we can spend the first few weeks combing though social media networks, trying to find your accounts, back into old emails, hunt for former employees and comb through oddly placed documents just to make a simple tweet.