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4 Pillars to a Strong Social Media Governance Model

Upasna Sharma

Sep 21, 2020

When you think of social media, I’m sure you immediately think of addicting TikTok’s, or catching up with your friend’s Instagram stories, and maybe even if you ‘should tweet’ (then wondering if that’s even still a thing to do). Despite all of this, I bet social media governance is never at the top of your list – but if you’re managing social media channels, it should be.

Optimizing Risk Management with Social Media Governance

Social media for business has tremendous benefits. Through an online presence you can:

  • Generate targeted awareness of your brand
  • Execute cost-efficient advertising
  • Allow your brand to have a voice – for (relatively) free!

Today, as larger more risk-averse organizations start to proactively develop social media strategies to garner audience interest, the benefits of the channel are undeniable — but there are also some risks.

Social media governance is well-beyond having a Social Media Policy. It’s day-to-day practices that marketing & communications teams should embed in their social media strategy to help optimize risk management and mitigate the inherent risks that come with having an online presence.

While the risks involved in leveraging social media for business are vast, I’ve summarized the top three companies should be aware of when these 24/7 online communication channels:

  1. Reputational Risk: A rogue tweet, a comment or post that is "off-brand", little to no response to customer complaints, or poorly vetted influencer collaborations.
  2. Breach in Confidentiality: Posting commercially sensitive details, account log-in breaches, or revealing private internal information.
  3. Regulatory Infractions: This includes GDPR, copyright, fraud.

Such risks might leave you with a sinking feeling, wondering if it is even worth using social media for your business, but all isn’t lost. To mitigate these risks, we have social media governance.

4 Pillars to a Strong Social Media Governance Model

If you haven’t kicked off your social media governance model just yet, don’t sweat — it's not too late. Use the 4 pillars below to guide you and protect your brand when using social networks.

Consideration of Brand Guidelines in an Online Space

Brand and employee social media guidelines play a critical role in mitigating reputational risk as they can help you identify logo infringements, respond to customer complaints and address imposter social media accounts in an online space. Some common ways to ensure these risks are being identified include:

  • Daily social media monitoring practices by your social media team using a social listening tool
  • Having an online community management process in place to ensure social media risks are identified early on and addressed immediately. A murmur can quickly become a full-blown crisis, so the earlier you catch wind of risky conversations, the better.
  • Being vigilant with due diligence on a continuous basis. For example, catching infringement allows your teams to ensure no false messaging is put out in the market without your consent.

Some businesses wouldn’t think of putting compliance and social media teams together, and honestly, it can be a very awkward conversation at the beginning. Compliance will tell you “here are the terms & conditions to put on your advertising” and your marketing team will likely look at them and say, “these will not fit in our 280-character limit”. Then there will likely be an awkward silence…

A tumble weed rolling across highway

Regardless, once the awkward phase is over — having compliance be a part of your social media team will lead to tremendous security for your organization.

Compliance and legal help safeguard your social media team in lots of instances, for example, preventing them from running false advertising messages or protecting your brand from threats made against the institution and employees. Furthermore, their strategies for capturing all online critical comments and review processes can assure your teams that they are adhering to industry regulations — even in an online space where rules are far from few.

Getting Comfortable with Social Listening

Social media monitoring also plays a critical role in proactively mitigating many corporate risks that can arise in a day-to-day news cycle. It’s important to monitor your brand, monitor competitors, senior executives and any critical accounts daily.

Monitoring is also critical to have in place before, during and after a crisis situation. When a crisis arisies, there should always be a designated person monitoring constantly and reporting every 2-3 hours. Having a social media monitoring tool to track key conversations, pull reports that can be sent to key stakeholders, and document any critical engagement is the foundation of all social media teams. 

People staring at a PC screen looking shocked and nervous.

Getting Familiar with Your Business Continuity Plan

I'm confident that your company definitely has a Business Continuity Plan, but I bet not everyone knows about the documented procedures.

From winter storms to tornados, I’ve been through them all, and I can assure you that as the social media manager of KPMG, I’m always the first call they make. In critical situations, your online channels often become the first-line of communications when getting key messaging out to staff and customers. It’s priceless in these times to know exactly who to call for your messaging and posting.

Speaking of storms, the preparation before the (crisis) storm is always the best time to ensure that in the storm – your teams can weather through. I strongly encourage you to connect with your communications teams and your continuity plan owners to ensure they know your social teams are here to support. Having regular conversations around critical incidents and messaging can make things a lot easier for you later.

Overall, I’d say social media governance isn’t the most ‘exciting’ topic when it comes to social media (because you know we’d all rather do a TikTok dance), but it’s by far the most integral part of your social media strategy that will consistently ensure your company recognizes the value (and impact) of social media channels. If you would like to learn more about the 4 pillars to a strong social media governance model in more depth, listen to the on-demand webinar I did with Meltwater here.