How Can a Company Shape Its Social Media Message?

Any company can have problems shaping its social media message. However, a company in the midst of a public relations crisis has a very difficult time these days controlling its message online. The Twitter account BPGlobalPR is a great example. The account posts entries like, “We feel terrible about spilling oil in American waters, we’ll make sure the next spill happens where the terrorists live.” Obviously, the account is not a real BP account. However, it has over 34,000 followers, including the author of this post, and BP’s actual account has 5,383 followers.

Mike Lewis, Vice-President of Marketing for Awareness, Inc. lists the challenges companies have with social media:

  1. Inability to scale: The inability for organizations to scale – to quickly and easily manage, maintain, and measure multiple social media channels.
  2. Security & Control: Controlling passwords is a challenge for many organizations.
  3. Lack of resources and buy-in: Many of the top brands – some of which have received kudos for their social performance and strategy – are operating with an extreme lack of resources and next to no buy-in from senior execs.
  4. Reporting is Ad-Hoc: Reporting on social media is the single biggest hurdle faced by large organizations because it impacts every other point on the list.
  5. Centralization: Organizations are looking to centralize social media efforts across the organization. Different departments create pages and accounts for their division and this makes it difficult to deploy a centralized strategy.

What can a company do to shape its social media message?  Daniel Burrus, author of Technotrends, discusses how a company can shape its social media message, and suggests the following:

  • Pinpoint the specific message you want to put out so that all employees have a guide to follow – so they know what direction their messages should take and how they should focus their posts.
  • Your employees should use their posts to build a reputation of trust among clients, media, and the public.

In a post about BP’s current PR problems, suggests things a company can develop a  social media strategy:

  • Have a social media strategy that starts building community’s and discussions before events happen
  • Have a listening tool to understand the online discussions and general sentiment
  • Have a social media risk management plan
  • Educate the internal company on the use of social media and their role/responsibilities
  • Make social media a core aspect of your PR communications and wider community engagements

Peony Wu, managing director of Neo@Ogilvy for Greater China lists ways companies can shape its social media message, starting with appointing the right person for the job. Wu says the person should be able to “articulate the right message and tone, and work with key influencers.” After the right person is in place, a company should create a list of “key influencers,” that is, communities blogs and social networking sites that its target consumers “are close to and find ways to partner with them.” Wu says a company also needs to listen to what its consumers are saying about it online, and understand how and where consumers are searching for information so that its messages are “sharable and findable.”

What do you think? How does your company manage its social media message?

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by