Welcome to Part 2 of Social Media in a Regulated World: Building a Rock-Solid Social Media Presence.
You’ve established your social media game plan. Now, with these 5 actionable tips below (and a little help from the FDA, FCC and HIPAA laws) it’s time to build a rock-solid social media presence for your brand.
Disclaimer: This article covers some of the unique topics regulated brands might encounter regarding social media. This is in no way considered a comprehensive set of guidelines. Be sure to consult a lawyer and refer to current laws and regulations on the advertising and marketing of your brand.
So, let's assume you’ve done the basics of creating your company pages on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and any other channels where your community is already hanging out. Time to dive in and get those channels buzzing with good information.
Social Media in a Regulated World: Part 2 – Building a Rock-Solid Social Media Presence
Tip 1: Start with a goal
Whether you’ve got a shiny new Facebook page, or set up social media long ago but let it drift to the bottom of your to-do list, you’ll want to start with a goal.
Metrics are enticing, but at this stage a goal such as “we want to increase website traffic by 50% over the next 3 months from our social media activities” might not work if you haven’t been tracking website traffic as it relates to your social media activity.
For the first month, I suggest posting regularly and watching what happens. Your goal might look like this:
“We want to get 50 new Facebook likes, 50 new Twitter followers, and 50 new LinkedIn group members by the end of the month.”
Every day for that first month, track your activity in each channel – how many followers, likes, members, Tweets/Retweets, etc.
At the end of the month, you’ll not only be in the rhythm of posting and monitoring regularly, but you’ll have some real insight to work with so you can modify your social media plan moving forward.
Tip 2: Follow social media best practices
Best practices cover things like what type of content to post, how frequently, when to post, when and how to engage, and your monitoring activities.
What to post. A failsafe guideline is to follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should be a mix of “common interest” content – that is, content that’s relevant to your community, while 20% should be promotional in nature.
For private groups you’ll want to encourage more discussion and create a member-friendly place where their active participation is welcome and appreciated.
And remember to keep it visual. Photos earn 84% more click-throughs, 53% more likes, and 104% more comments over text alone, according to Kissmetrics.
Frequency. How often should you post? The short answer is, as regular as necessary. Now is the time to pay attention to your readers’ response and create a posting schedule that keeps them engaged. To help light the way, see the compiled statistics in this easy-to-digest infographic from Coschedule.
Timing. When to post? Again, it’s going to take some trial and error, but some recent data can be found at Buffer.
Engaging & Monitoring. The whole point of social media is to give your community a warm welcome and make them feel at home. As you get into the swing of things, commit to responding to inquiries, questions, complaints and kudos right off the bat. Responding quickly will help to establish your reputation as a reliable resource among your community. For more on monitoring, check out our ebook: How to Monitor Social Media 10 Minutes a Day.
Tip 3: Choose your level of privacy
Going private with social media offers added peace of mind, especially when topics like health information and product claims may be part of the discussion. The downside is that private accounts can be harder to find.
Indeed, privacy issues do come up in social media. But if you’ve built a solid foundation and are up to speed on the latest HIPAA / FDA / DSHEA / FCC policies, you should avoid violations and reap the benefits of managing public accounts.
Finally, you may decide to maintain separate accounts for public-facing and professional groups, and outline different policies for each.
- Facebook offers three types of closed communities with different levels of privacy.
- Twitter offers an option for public and protected Tweets.
- LinkedIn has updated Groups features to maximize privacy and trust among members.
Tip 4: Make privacy a priority
Whether you decide to go with public or private social media channels, privacy and public safety are an especially high priority for health and wellness brands.
You’ll want to:
Not everyone realizes that their recent bout of / insert digestive ailment here / is now on display for the world to see when they comment on how your product or service helped them. Or that a patient’s personally-identifying information got leaked in one of your online discussions. To safeguard your readers' privacy:
- Inform users that posting comments on social media becomes public domain.
- Provide an easy way to remove comments, or to get in touch with you to have them removed.
- Caution users from sharing personally-identifying material such as username, name and address.
Tip 5: Show your true colors
Let’s end on a lighter note, shall we?
Social media is the perfect place to breathe life into your brand, show the world your true colors, and command a rock-solid online presence by posting and engaging consistently. What makes you different? Who in your company is a customer service fanatic? What's your company mission? How can you boost your brand's awareness while providing meaningful information to others?
Take notice of what people are doing in your community. See who is promoting awareness about your industry and celebrate their achievements and contributions.
A final note
When it comes to social media for regulated brands, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula. I hope this article has provided some useful tips on how to strike that balance between strict internal policy and a "sharing is caring" spirit. While industry regulations will play a key role in your social media activities, they should integrate with, not inhibit, your bigger marketing goals.