This week a client of ours participated in Philly Tech Week by presenting a seminar on how a business can embrace social media tools to build their brands, while also keeping an eye on protecting its core ideas and identity and ensuring not to infringe on that of others. My first goal in attending was to lend a hand in ensuring the event ran smoothly, however, the presentation was packed with so much great information for a marketer (and for business owners) that I wanted to share!
A great number of marketers I know work for B2B firms that err on the side of caution (to put it lightly) when it comes to social media (including everything from blogging, Facebook and LinkedIn to YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest). Their fears range from —will competitors steal our ideas, to will an employee unknowingly cast the firm in a bad light? What seems to scare business owners is that:
- What goes on the Web is permanent
- It’s public, and
- It’s almost too easy to post.
All valid concerns. Here are some thoughts and tips to put such thoughts at ease.
First let’s explore the pros:
All types of businesses can benefit from using social media platforms to share ideas, new offerings and other types thought leadership to an audience who is already following you in some way — most likely already interested in what you have to say. You can control the positioning of your company and brand, and engage in virtual conversations versus simply pushing out a one-way message.
- Social media transcends geographical constraints.
- Most tools allow for multi-media sharing.
- You reach your audience (for the most part) at no cost other than time spent using the tools.
- Engaging through social media allows you to get instant, direct feedback.
- You can post ideas and messages quickly, while they are fresh and newsworthy.
Tips for Keeping Your Company Safe:
- From Infringement: Be sure that you have permission to use any images, music or text that could be copyrighted. Don’t use other companies’ trademarks in such a way that would violate the intention of the marks. Know that the company is responsible for what a staff member or consultant publishes on its behalf.
- From Competition: Know that your competitors are monitoring you, so share ideas and thought leadership, but don’t share information you wouldn’t say at a networking event with your competitor was standing in the same room.
- From Internal Risks: By all means, be sure staff is clear on what can be shared and how to appropriately use the tools.
Ways to Mitigate the Risks of Social Media Use:
- Instill Procedures: Have written corporate social media procedures (a plan).
- Centralize and Educate: Centralize social media tasks to a few key staff members and ensure they are educated on procedures and keep up with how to use the tools.
- Get Company-Owned Accounts: Be sure your firm’s social media guru uses company (not personal) logins / accounts. You want to be sure that if they leave, your followers and passwords don’t go out the door as well.
- Respect Copyright, Fair Use, Trademark Laws: Be sure to get permission (for copyright materials), cite references and link to original sources.
The Final Word
As a marketer, I (not surprisingly) think firms that are over-cautious in using social media tools are missing out on the ultimate benefits. Firms that need a team of partners to scrub and approve each post are defeating the advantages of the tools. The key is to set parameters, educate and trust your staff to do the rest.