One of the more interesting challenges of running social media at my company was determining what exactly we would respond to online. When I started here we were a smaller subsidiary of a larger parent company that had a generally positive reputation online. I can count the number of issues that came about on social media on one hand in my first year in the role.
Then, we merged with another subsidiary that had a fairly negative reputation and consciously chose to NOT use social media to represent their business. As such, leaders on that side of the house were very hesitant about having the newly combined company out there in the public eye.
Although not having a social presence in this climate is pure madness, their fears were not misguided as we were inundated with negativity as aggrieved consumers finally had an official outlet to voice their concerns online. At the time our social media “team” was just me so it was certainly a challenge to keep up with issues and making sure five alarm fires were being put out as they were popping up.
Things calmed down after a week or so and I found myself on a call with a bunch of leaders in the organization recapping the first week and the pain points the arose during that time. The conversation quickly turned towards our activity on social, who we are responding to and how we are responding to them. Until that call we did not have an official policy in place as to who we would attempt to aid and who we would not. It was really just a matter of common sense: if someone used a ton of profanity or just seemed to be ranting and raving with no real issue at the heart of their diatribe then we would skip over it. Anything else — good or bad — would be acknowledged.
To help the less socially savvy leaders in this organization visualize the response flow, we created this basic flow chart to illustrate when we would — and would not — respond to people on social:
I keep a pretty minimalist cubicle but I will say that this chart is one of the few things that I actually have hanging up on one of my walls. Not because I created it or because I need to constantly refer to it a year after its creation but because it serves as an excellent reminder that while the key aspect of social media is, you know, being social, you don’t have to respond to every criticism or comment out there.
I’m not one to obsess over process flows as that can be a deep, dark hole to go down but I truly believe this chart is one of the more valuable things I’ve created for internal consumption here. Since the merger my “team” has grown by a few people and all have found this invaluable in getting up to speed when it comes to dealing with social issues as they arise.
While our social media policies and strategies still aren’t as mature as I’d like them to be, I’m very proud of the way we’ve been able to put together this easy, streamlined flow into practice.