Social Media

Seven tips for creating an effective social media policy for your business

Eloise Keating /

Small business owners interested in developing a social media policy for their business should focus on the strengths of their team and not their weaknesses, says social media expert Vanessa Wiltshire.

Wiltshire, the founder of The HR Talent Community, was the guest speaker at a breakfast event in Melbourne this morning, hosted by the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Wiltshire says most employees want to do what’s right by their employer when it comes to using social media and more often than not, they will do the right thing. Nevertheless, she says it’s important businesses understand and manage the risks associated with using all forms of online media.

During her presentation, Wiltshire stressed the importance of social media for businesses of all sizes, saying “social is the new language of the 21st century”.

“If you’re not doing [social media] and you’re not doing it effectively, your business won’t exist in five years,” says Wiltshire. “It is very scary, but it is also very exciting.”

She urged business owners and executives not to be frightened of using platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, telling the room she built her own consultancy business primarily through LinkedIn.  

“When you go travelling overseas, you don’t think about the things that can go wrong. You think about all of the amazing experiences you hope to have and the people you hope to meet. Approach social media in the same way and watch your organisation transform,” she says.

Wiltshire says an effective social media policy is one that filters through an entire organisation, from the owner or chief executive down. It’s about “building social media capacity in your people”, she says.

And it’s not just management who should dictate social media policy to the younger employees, says Wiltshire, who recommends the practice of “reverse mentoring”, where the Millennials in the business may be able to show the older workers a thing or two.

Businesses should also view social media as “a tool and not the end point”, says Wiltshire. The focus should not be on how many Facebook likes or retweets you can achieve, but instead on building a genuinely engaging community around your business.

Wiltshire told SmartCompany small businesses interested in dipping their toes into the social media world should first look at their existing networks for advice.

“It’s about being connected with people in your own environment,” she says. “What I have found with my business is that there are amazing people out there who’ve helped me and people want to help.”

“Even something as simple as putting a public notification out on Facebook saying you are looking for some help and you would be able to offer some in-kind services,” she says.

“It happened with me. I built my startup with nothing and now I am talking to sponsors,” says Wiltshire. “I just started approaching people and asked them for help. And even if you’re not already connected to someone, I guarantee they will know someone who can help.

Here are seven of Wiltshire’s tips for developing an effective social media policy for your business.

1. Use your purpose and values as the foundation

Wiltshire says effective social media is about “selling from the inside out” by building on the existing values of the organisation.

“Why is it you do what you do? What is the purpose of your organisation? How do you add value to your stakeholders, your community and your employees? That’s your foundation. That’s what will inspire people around a great social media policy,” she says.

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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