The concept of businesses interacting with customers via social media is relatively new in Zimbabwe.
It’s great that more local businesses and entrepreneurs have decided to increase their social media presence, effectively breaking down previous communication barriers, but there is still much left to be desired.
Businesses should understand that having a social media presence is opening a new line of formal communication between them and their clients.
Driven by convenience, social media is simply a platform to interact with your service provider or client, communicating on social media does not mean social communication.
There is a thin line between being social on social media and using social media as a business tool, conversations may be as legally binding as an email or letter and should be taken seriously.
It is in the company’s best interest to educate their employees of the risks of communicating via social media as they are speaking on behalf of the company and not in their own capacity.
The views and opinions expressed should be that of the companies and not of the employee.
Recently, I came across a conversation on twitter which highlights the problems were facing online:
Like any other communication medium, social media has developed its own set of rules over time, so here are some tips I think can help you communicate professionally via social media:
- Use professional language in conversations, if you have identified the person’s sex, address them as sir/mam, if you know their name, address them by it, never “my dear” or “my love”
- Understand the reputational risks of each post, comment, reply or share.
- Do not use any abusive or hurtful language
- Do not make any sexist remarks
- Do not get into public arguments with your clients, rather offer to call the or message them privately
- Take care of confidential material, especially if it’s your clients
- Do not get into contract by mistake, make it clear that the conversation is not intended to be binding
- Educate employees on social media use, risks, techniques, and appropriated interactions
- Create or modify your companies IT policy, the policy should outline the standards an employee should observe when using social media, the circumstances under which the company will monitor their use and the necessary action to be taken in respect of breaches of these standards.
- Avoid personalizing the businesses social media accounts, do not post or share any personal data, do not engage in personal conversations, do not post any personal religious, social or political beliefs.
We are still at the learning stages of social media use, but if we don’t point out each other’s mistakes we will never grow and improve together.