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Beth  Nunnington, Senior Account Manager

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Beth Nunnington

Senior Account Manager

Having always been a massive advocate of social media in all areas of work, I am pleased to see that social networking is becoming more popular with SME's.

These small to medium sized businesses are using social media to give themselves a voice which, if used properly, can become a very loud one. By developing a social presence, they can show a completely new side of their brand – who works for them, their sense of humour, what’s important to them - and help to build relationships and trust with new and existing customers. Social media is now an essential part of putting any business on the map. 

It’s essential for brands to put themselves out there in front of their social audience, if only to keep up with their competitors. 

Our clients are all embracing social media from a brand perspective, though internally they could be far more cautious, and it’s perfectly natural for them to be.

We've all heard about social media fails. Most recently was British Gas' attempt to appease their customers about the energy price hike. They organised a Twitter Q&A using the hashtag#AskBG which ended up in over ten thousand tweets being sent to the energy giant – and they weren’t nice ones. As the Metro front page stated, it was indeed a bit of a ‘British Gaffe’.

Tesco made a similar school-boy error last week when they forgot to include a link to a recipe they were paying to promote over Twitter. And who can forget McDonald’s attempt at a social media campaign? The fast food giant used the hashtag #McDStories, hoping for positive tales and memories, which backfired when customers sent in negative tweets, including my personal favourite: "I stopped eating McDonalds years ago because every time I ate it I felt like I was dying inside."

That said, it is becoming apparent that companies are encouraging employees to get more involved in social media and understand how it works for their business – as long as they’re responsible! Employees can be one of the best advocates for your brand, from your first re-tweets to a base of followers on LinkedIn. If they enjoy working for your business and want it to succeed, then allowing them to get on social could lead to very positive results. 

To give you piece of mind and to protect your business, write a social media policy for all your employees to read, and make sure anyone in charge of sending social posts is fully clued up on the rules. Find a social media advocate in your business to keep everyone up-to-speed on the different social networks and how to avoid mishaps. Businesses are also acutely aware of the growing use of social media for customer service, as channels like Twitter become more and more of a public platform for queries and complaints. However, before you shy away from social consider this; regardless of whether your company is on social or not, this won’t stop customers tweeting about you! Surely it’s better to have sturdy procedures in place so that you and your employees are in the right place and mind-set to respond appropriately and help build and protect your brand? 

Once everyone knows how to make the most of social media, it should be a blessing for employers. It gives them a huge insight into the popularity of their brand and products, and allows them to tweak or change their strategy as a result. Giving your brand a face and personality is the key benefit of social, and can really help you get ahead of your competitors if you engage successfully with your customers.