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Questions to Ask before Jumping onto the Social Media Bandwagon



Many organizations have been quick to jump on the social media bandwagon – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Vimeo and other platforms. After all, it’s a free way to interact with customers and prospects, right?


Not exactly.


First, any social media platform requires regular maintenance and updates. This takes time, and time is money. Second, many of these platforms are making it more difficult for organizations to reach their audience unless they pay for it. In other words, they’re becoming paid advertising platforms.


Social media can offer incredible value if used properly. However, without careful planning and research, it can quickly drain resources, turn off customers and get organizations into legal hot water. There are a number of factors to consider before diving headfirst into the deep end of the social media pool.

What is the goal?

Building lists of fans, followers and connections is great, but how will you convert these lists into business value? Just like any business initiative, there needs to be an end game. Are you trying to generate leads by getting people to download an e-book or register for a webinar? Are you trying to boost customer retention with special offers? Claiming “everyone else is doing it” isn’t enough to justify an investment into social media.

How will you measure ROI?

This has always been a struggle with social media. Each platform and tactic must be measured for effectiveness, and the metrics tend to vary. For example, what is the dollar value of an e-book download or webinar registration? What are “likes” worth? What are the benchmarks for success? It’s best to focus on one or two social media platforms, understand how to calculate ROI, and gradually expand your social media presence.

How will you provide value to your customers?

A study by Carlisle & Gallagher revealed that 87 percent of consumers found the social media efforts of banks and credit unions to be annoying, boring or unhelpful. The takeaway is that your audience won’t necessarily be interested just because you’re on their favorite social media channel. If you want them to pay attention and become loyal, you need to provide something of value.

What are the legal and regulatory risks?

There are many, and they vary from industry to industry. For example, suppose you hire someone who signed a confidentiality agreement that bars them from contacting a previous employer’s clients. If your new employee updates their profile to reflect the job change, and this update is shared with the former employer’s clients, this employee can be sued for violating the agreement.

Other examples: How will you protect your intellectual property? Does your use of another company’s trademark imply an affiliation with that company? Could an off-the-cuff comment by one of your employees about a person or organization be considered libelous? Does your social media post about a client success story violate that client’s privacy?

To protect yourself from legal pitfalls, develop a written social media policy that defines who is permitted to speak on behalf of your organization, what type of subject matter can be posted, and the consequences of violating the social media policy. Also, determine how third-party contracts may be breached on social media.