Guest post by Peter Heffring, CEO of social software company Expion, a Social: IRL sponsor providing scalable enterprise-grade software to listen, content plan, publish, moderate, analyze, govern and share content on Facebook and other social channels. The post originally appeared in MediaPostBlogs.
The most pressing concern from marketers who manage social media for global brands is no longer about presence or participation – it’s now a mature focus on governance and collaboration. The proliferation of social media engagement through Facebook, Twitter and other widely adopted platforms presents a new frontier for global brands as well as a new set of multi-location challenges that involve cultural and communication differences in every country, city and corner of the planet.
Marketers face many obstacles when it comes to distributed engagement, from how to control what is being said and shared by page administrators across various brands, locations and countries to who is managing the process and ensuring the sharing of best practices across the globe.
As motivated marketers, we constantly strive for perfection. In a distributed engagement environment, our collective efforts toward a P.E.R.F.E.C.T. solution would significantly improve the chances of overcoming today’s social governance challenges.
A global brand that is serious about governance must start with a comprehensive social media policy that encompasses all the rules and guidelines on how to appropriately communicate as a representative of the brand. A policy is intended to be a map that shows the boundaries of communications, but also the various opportunities that social media empowers the brand with — customer interaction, direct-response, product feedback and more.
Good governance gives different levels of publishing and administrative authority to different individuals within a social media or marketing team. All members of the team should understand their roles — and a social software solution can ensure they are properly managed with a clear management and approvals structure. If the social software can’t handle the governance requirements of a global brand, then exceptions are created and the system won’t work. The platform must be able to handle the various controls and rules for the brand; otherwise, there will be a gap in communications and the worst exception can generate a crisis.
The ability to have a real-time conversation with customers or people or see a real-time pulse of what’s happening are frequently mentioned when asking someone about the power of social media. The need for real-time governance is essential in this dynamic world of now. Real-time translation and sharing capabilities for top-performing tweets and posts across a brand’s social network will ensure best practices and maximum efficiency on a global level. Social software continues to evolve to empower marketers further with a system that distributes information, changes and alerts in real-time.
Governance must be flexible and adapt to the various job roles and responsibilities for each region, team and page. Brands today need a social software solution that can be configured based on the social media needs of their unique brand, giving them the flexibility they need to communicate — within the agreed-upon guidelines that ensure a consistent brand voice, and sharing of best practices.
Social media is more than a conversation. The interaction between a brand and a customer or fan builds a relationship and produces an experience — whether positive, negative or indifferent. Governance should integrate the ethos of a customer-centric company, always considerate of the customer experience and ensuring that the entire path of customer interaction exceeds expectation.
A centralized approach through a brand hub (and approval chain) ensures a consistent brand voice and generates the needed oversight for relevant stakeholders regardless of region. Marketers should look for a social media management platform that offers a highly efficient mechanism for centralizing social media communications and facilitating governance and collaboration for a global brand.
Marketers should receive training up front that is ongoing, as social media engagement evolves and tools and features in social media management emerge to serve the public. Training on these tools is essential, but training and guidance on how to engage people and build relationships is critical.
Governance of this distributed engagement paradigm is — and should be — a cornerstone for any marketer looking to promote or protect a brand with multiple locations, pages or products. Global brands that tackle the CORE social media challenges through the above value-set are well-positioned to meet the needs of distributed engagement – and well on their way toward a dynamic world of perfect governance.