Jessica Hibbard (Frederick Chamber) and Tom Lynch (Miles & Stockbridge) Presented Feb. 19, 2010 at the New Media & Technology Conference (#FredNMT)

This presentation is not intended to serve as legal counsel or marketing advice. We encourage you to consult with trusted professionals to customize a social media plan and policy for your organization.


Social media is just media.

Instead of thinking about social media as an entirely new venture, consider how you might integrate this plan with your existing traditional marketing plan. (You DO have one of those, right?)

Furthermore, new media and technology have created a paradigm shift in how businesses & consumers communicate with each other. Be prepared for more interaction with your customers online. Before launching a new social media campaign, you should ask yourself:

What is our goal? Who is our audience, and where are they spending time online? How much time (and money) can we spend? What can we share with the public? Who will represent us online? How will we monitor & evaluate the success of our social media outreach?

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• • •

Basic Steps:

1. Establish goals 2. Listen, observe, monitor

3. Engage in conversation & provide value

Example: Frederick Chamber

The Chamber’s marketing council reviewed major social media platforms to determine where Chamber members (and prospective members) were spending time online. We also considered existing marketing content (videos, photos, etc.) and possible future content to see which tools might be most useful for making the most out of the communication materials we were already producing.

In November 2008, we decided to start with a LinkedIn group (exclusively for members to post discussions and make connections), a YouTube channel (a place to store existing video content for easy sharing and embedding), and a Twitter account (for community & media relations, event promotion, member recognition).

In a busy nonprofit organization, we don’t have a lot of time and resources for monitoring. Our “monitoring on a shoestring” includes Google Alerts & Analytics, saved Twitter searches and hashtag statistics, evaluation forms at major events (“where did you hear about this event?”), membership application form (“how did you hear about the Chamber?”), analytics, and an RSS dashboard of keyword searches and local media feeds.

Results: Most importantly, we’ve seen increased membership recruitment and retention that can be directly attributed to our social media outreach. We’ve also seen increased event participation and the development of new events (i.e., a brown bag lunch discussion on social media, our first social media conference, a Tweetup at Expo 2009, LFC breakfast program on social media, and this new media & technology conference). We’ve also established a reputation as a progressive, forward-thinking organization that’s in touch with emerging business trends, and we’ve established better relationships with local media and seen increased blog, print, TV, and radio coverage.

Our future plans include a Chamber blog, Facebook fan page, Flickr photostream, and more. Each month, we meet with the marketing council to review social media statistics and set future goals for our social media outreach.

Example: Maryland Ensemble Theatre The MET wanted to reach audiences in Frederick, build relationships with other theatre professionals in our area and beyond. They were already using Facebook, YouTube, and a blog, but felt the need to establish a strategy specifically for their new Twitter presence. When starting out on Twitter, Sarah set a goal of posting four updates each day:

1. 2. 3. 4.

An update about something related to or going on in Frederick An update about something happening in the theatre industry An update about something related to MET A reply to someone else on Twitter

This strategy works because it’s very focused. They knew the connections they wanted to make and what they wanted to say. It’s realistic, and prevents the person responsible for the Twitter account from becoming too overwhelmed and spending too much time, but is active enough to be effective. It’s also scalable. After learning the ropes, interaction will be more natural, updates can become more frequent if necessary, and they’ll know exactly how they can add more value to the community they want to reach.

All in all, a great example of how you can add a new social media tool to your toolbox and make it work with your existing marketing, online or otherwise.

Beyond marketing

Consider how you might use social media for:

• • • • •

Sales and customer service HR – Employee retention and/or recruiting new employees Internal communication & collaboration Professional development Market research & product development


Guidelines: Your social media policy sets the guidelines for implementing your social media plan.

Integration: Just like your plan fits with an existing marketing plan, your social media policy should integrate with an existing HR policy.

Why have a social media policy?

• • • • •

Protect yourself and your organization Enable proactive strategies Set expectations for behavior, productivity Establish consistent communication Maximize the effectiveness of social media

How will you communicate your policy to employees, board members, volunteers, and other stakeholders?

• • • •

Special training session for existing staff New employee training Employee handbook Establish point person, trainer, or manager to field questions from staff

When developing your own policy, consider this:

• • • •

Who are your prospects, customers, stakeholders, community? How will you use social media to serve them? What are the risks? How will inappropriate use affect the organization? How will you disclose relationships with customers, shareholders, advertisers? Who is allowed to use social media on behalf of the organization?

• • •

How will you respond to negative remarks and other problems? What information is confidential? What guidelines apply to personal use of social media that is not work-related?

Other considerations:

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Industry regulations Privacy concerns Copyright & intellectual property Personal opinion vs. company position

Example: Frederick Chamber

See copy of policy on pages 5-6

This isn’t a groundbreaking social media policy, but it covers all the basics. Employees are made aware of potential problems but employees are not prohibited from using it for business or personal communication. Emphasis is placed on personal responsibility and organizational goals, all set within the context of the Chamber’s mission and vision. The policy also establishes a point person and names spokespersons.

Example: Zappos

Zappos, the online retailer, is frequently used as an example of outstanding customer service and effective use of social media. Over 400 of their 700 employees are on Twitter. Employees receive training on the proper use of Twitter during orientation, and are encouraged to use it to build relationships with coworkers and customers. The company doesn’t have a social media policy for its employees, other than “just be smart.”

Sources: &

This may not be the most risk-averse policy, however, documents that are too specific can be problematic, too. You don’t want to your policy to be so detailed that it’s hard to understand and doesn’t allow for flexibility in the rapidly-changing world of social media.

Final thought: A great policy doesn’t guarantee great results

The most carefully-crafted policy still won’t ensure that your organization’s use of social media will be effective. You need a good strategy and plan, integrated with existing marketing and communications. You need to establish strong organizational values, and to hire people who can align themselves with those values and who can be trusted to represent your company, with or without a list of rules. Good judgment is key, whether you’re using Twitter, Facebook, email, telephone, or a typewriter.


The purpose of social media The Frederick Chamber’s mission is to connect business and community through leadership, advocacy, and education. Along those lines, we seek to foster an atmosphere of open communication between Chamber staff, Chamber members, and the community at large. Social media applications have become increasingly important tools for the kind of engagement and communication that we encourage. When social media is used effectively for best practices research, employee recruitment, member recruitment and retention, and the discovery of new tools to advance the work of the Chamber, we will be one step closer to our vision: To be the trusted leader for business in a vibrant community. Using social media The same principles and guidelines that apply to Chamber employees’ activities in general also apply to their activities online, both at work and outside of work. This includes all forms of online publishing and discussion, e.g. blogs, wikis, file-sharing, user-generated audio/photos/video, social networks, and other new media applications. The Chamber uses several social networking applications to engage with members and the community at large. Strategy and execution of these initiatives are led by the Communications Director. Specific guidelines When the Chamber wishes to communicate publicly—whether to its members, the media, or other audiences—it has well-established means of doing so. Only those officially designated by the Chamber are authorized to speak on behalf of the organization. Avoid argumentative, aggressive, inflammatory, or direct dialogue with those making derogatory or negative comments about the Chamber. Please channel these discussions to the Communications Director or President and CEO to handle. Respect your audience. We expect you will not use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the workplace. Be transparent and honest. The use of pseudonyms and anonymity is discouraged when participating in online conversations relating to the Chamber, or issues with which the Chamber is engaged. If you are blogging or posting about your work for the Chamber, use your real name, and disclose that you work for the Chamber. Employees should not use social media applications for covert marketing or public relations. Employees who use social media should familiarize themselves regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines for online endorsements and testimonials and comply with all regulations. Be thoughtful about how you present yourself online. The lines between personal and professional lives are blurred in social networks. If you choose to identify yourself as a Chamber staff person within a social network (e.g., Facebook), you must ensure that content associated with you is consistent with your work at the Chamber, and that if you discuss Chamber information you are authorized to do so.

Use a disclaimer. Make it clear that what you post on your personal blog, profile, or other online space is representative of your own views and opinions and does not necessarily represent those of your employer. Of course, this does not apply to blogs or profiles that are maintained exclusively for the use of authorized Chamber communication. Employees who act as spokespersons for the Chamber must realize that a standard disclaimer may not necessarily make one exempt from the responsibility of representing the Chamber. Spokespersons must consider whether, by virtue of their position, any personal thoughts posted online may be misunderstood as official Chamber positions. Be accurate and factual. Identify your Chamber affiliation, verify that what you’re saying is factually correct, and do not make inflammatory statements or defensive responses. If you see that the Chamber or the Chamber’s positions have been misrepresented online, inform the Communications Director or President and CEO, and they will decide how to respond. Use your best judgment. Remember that there can be consequences to what you communicate in any format: Online, on the phone, in person, or in writing. Assume that everything you post on a blog or social network will be part of a permanent public record, accessible by members, future members, colleagues, supervisors, friends, family, and the media. Think twice about publishing something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable. If you’re unsure about posting on a topic related to Chamber business, refrain from doing so until you can discuss it with your supervisor. Ultimately, you must take sole responsibility for what you post or publish in any format. Your engagement with social media will vary, depending on its relevance to your position at the Chamber. Discuss with your supervisor which of your responsibilities, if any, necessitate your on-the-job participation. Privacy & social media Due to the nature of social media, employees should have no expectation of privacy, whether the use of social media is for personal or business purposes, at the office or outside of work. Digital information may be easily copied and shared, regardless of the privacy settings specified within any application. Protect yourself and your privacy by exercising caution when disclosing personal information.

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