Take a medical group, for example, which consists of different practices in different locations. The medical group provides healthcare services from pediatrics to women’s health to physical therapy. These disparate target audiences are thirsty for content just for them. As a brand, you must choose between a consistent master brand presence and a meaningful and targeted connection with customers. How do you win a war against yourself? If the medical group’s women’s health practice wants to start their own Facebook Page, you have to decide if this dilutes the brand’s social media presence or enhances it. Some are inclined to say this splinters the brand, but the proof is in the engagement.
I had the opportunity to meet Lauren Vargas, Head of Social Media and Community at Aetna, a few weeks ago at xPotomac. Lauren shared valuable insight into approaching social media from a large and highly regulated company’s perspective.
At Aetna we have a multitude of stockholders; and constituents have various levels of how they can consume information,” says Vargas. “This is a very process driven company so you have got to start there. Companies should identify all of the policies and processes that currently exist, determine what needs to be created and then fill that sandbox so people are empowered because they know exactly where the boundaries are.
If someone inquires about creating a new social profile, Aetna’s policy requires them to complete and meet the following steps and criteria:
Vargas points out that most people don’t understand the time and effort a social channel requires. Putting a process in place helps ensure social profiles are purposeful. The channel is revisited again and again to ensure its growth and success.
Well known for its social media savvy, the Mayo Clinic has a two page document outlining the criteria for developing Mayo Clinic – branded social media sites. The document outlines Mayo Clinic’s social media principles and philosophy, guidelines for development of accounts and a Twitter and Facebook Page requirements and naming conventions. Just like Aetna, Mayo Clinic outlines important questions applicants need to address to substantiate development of a new account.
When it comes to its philosophy, Mayo Clinic encourages use of the main Mayo Clinic social accounts and platforms for short-term announcements and projects. This allows for maximum exposure and helps maintains cohesion for the brand. The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media (MCCSM) staff coordinates use of enterprise-level accounts and platforms.
The MCCSM is also available as a resource to employees, providing training opportunities to those interested in using social media. That said, the MCCSM encourages everyone to first experiment personally with their personal social accounts. I think this is a smart move – and a requirement that should be widespread among companies as they familiarize staff with the tools of the trade. This will make discussion, trainings and ultimate application of social media more effective.
The company’s mission statement is “creating components for people to live longer, healthier, fun lives.” As a retail brand with a health focus, Lululemon has built its Facebook community page by page, literally. In addition to the company’s overall Facebook Brand Page, there is a Facebook Page for each store location. While this may seem counterintuitive, this strategy serves Lululemon’s goals and purpose by enabling each store to build a more personal following in the community they serve.
Each store has several social media ambassadors that help to humanize the brand and inspire Lululemon’s mission of healthy living. While a Facebook Page for each location creates more work, Lululemon has a team that supports the local Facebook Brand Pages. The team provides feedback and best practices, while each store is responsible for implementation, content development and community management.
Michelle Davies, Lululemon’s former brand experience manager told Mashable:
The most important element to our presence on Facebook is our ability to create conversation and join in on the conversations our guests are creating. Those conversations are even more meaningful when they can be continued in the store — a person who offers you a yoga tip on Facebook may be the same person ringing you up for your sweatband in the store.
Location-based Facebook management may be a challenge to manage, but it transforms your brand’s ability to transition an online relationship to a face-to-face (read: point of purchase) relationship. That alone may make it worth the extra effort.
As a brand, you have to determine the right policies and solutions that best serve the diverse needs of both the external and internal audience. One answer doesn’t fit all brands, but there are overarching themes to help guide every brand throughout the process.
Across different approaches and policies one theme remains: sustainability. Social media presence isn’t about a magic number or one solution. Rather, the key is to develop platforms with quality content that are sustainable over time along with having the resources to manage and grow these social media properties from the beginning.
Is your brand struggling with creating a policy or facing a similar dilemma? What other tips would you offer? I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments!
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