It’s so exciting to launch a new business. Big plans, big dreams and a dash of luck thrown in. Often when we start new businesses, we launch brand new social media channels. And while there are a lot of design considerations that need to be checked off the list when launching new social media channels, often it’s the processes and procedures which are overlooked.
Processes and procedures are the invisible superpower which sets aside brilliant social media channels from the average ones. It’s how some social media channels look fantastic and avert crisis after crisis. Outside of social media teams, these documents are almost unheard of. But this means that businesses are missing out on really critical tools to help their business succeed on social.
I’m going to run through the documents we need to establish when launching new social media channels, so you’re on the front foot to build a strong social media foundation for your business.
A Social Media Strategy
The first thing I always recommend a business does when launching social media channels is to have a strategy. A strategy isn’t just about what content you post: it’s the translation of your business objectives into a social media marketing approach. Knowing who your audience is and what you want them to do will define which social media channels you’re on, and how often you post.
Your content will come from pulling your marketing objectives into themes which run throughout your content. Many people misunderstand a social media strategy as “how often I post cat pictures on Facebook” – but it’s actually asking whether you should even be on Facebook, and if posting cat pictures supports your business objectives.
A Content Calendar
A content calendar is a tool to help you plan your social media content in advance. It’s great because it can help you plan campaigns, you can create and schedule posts and you can take advantage of big upcoming events if you know they are coming.
Getting organised and designing a content calendar that makes sense for the things you need in your business is important: are you designing content for multiple channels, do you need internal approvals, do you need to keep track of ad spend again each post? Design a content calendar that makes sense for your business needs.
Social media brand guidelines
We often think that brand guidelines are only used by big businesses or something we use when designing tv ads. But great social media channels will use the same colours and fonts across their social, as they would on their website and newsletter. Creating a set font and colour palette that you use consistently across your social is a simple way of elevating your brand. It’s even easier when you can save templates into drop-and-drag graphic tools like Canva (the love of my life).
Brand guidelines aren’t just for design, but also useful for tone-of-voice. Are you wanting to appear casual, approachable, or formal and an expert? The language you use in your posts will change the way customers see you – so create a set of rules for your brand voice too. Consider things like whether your brand uses ‘thanks’ vs ‘thank you’ or whether emojis are allowed to ensure your brand has a consistent feel, not matter how people engage with it.
A FAQ cheatsheet
As soon as we enter the two-way environment of social media, people are going to be asking questions. And we need to be prepared for them! Creating an internal cheat-sheet of expected frequently asked questions will speed up turnaround times to responding to comments, and ensure that your responses stick to the brand voice. Most customers expect a response on social media within an hour turnaround of asking the question, so this will help you have the right answer without having to chase up someone on their lunch break.
Questions like how much items are, your address, your opening hours and your prices are all questions you can plan answers to in advance. If you’ve got a customer support team, they might have a list they use already. Let’s not reinvent the wheel and use the systems we’ve already got in place!
An Issue Escalation Procedure
Like a wildfire, one angry customer that hasn’t been responded to within a few hours can spark up into a horde of complaints that feel out of control. One of the simplest ways to prevent a storm on social media, is to have a plan to quickly and efficiently respond on social media. Yep, especially to comments that make us feel uncomfortable.
Like a fire escape plan, we hope an issue escalation plan is something we never need to use. But planning for it in advance means that in the heat of the moment, we’ve got a go-to guide for how we respond, and who we need to escalate issues to so get an issue sorted quickly.
An issue escalation plan outlines possible worst-case scenarios for your business (like an angry customer complaining vocally on social media) and how you respond, what internal processes you need to follow, and who you need to loop in.
As you can see, social media processes and procedures might not sound the sexiest topic: but they are critical to the successful integration of social media into your business. These processes are the difference between a bland brand, and one that sparkles with your brand voice. It also means you’ve got systems in place to respond to compliments and complaints with ease, to diffuse tension quickly and effectively.
On top of this, these documents shouldn’t be ‘set and forget’ – don’t be afraid to make these ‘living’ documents. The FAQ document, for example, could be updated weekly as new questions arise, and the Issue Escalation Plan should be reviewed annually to ensure that the latest members to staff are included.
Before setting up any social media channels, I always recommend businesses spend some time planning how they are going to manage their social media into the future so that they are setting themselves up for success.
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About Rachel Beaney
Rachel Beaney is an Australian freelance social media specialist with over a decade in digital media. She’s worked with global names like Microsoft, Samsung, News Corp and General Assembly, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping clients solve their business needs with creative and data-driven solutions. Get in touch today to jump on a free consultation call to find out how Rachel can help you.