- Written by our team member: Carlos Andres Urrego Sabogal
Ever wondered how social media can be applied in a highly regulated industry? How it can be used without the risk of being fined? Allow you to listen closer to your customers and satisfy their needs? And even drive new customers to our business?
If you have asked yourself this questions and want to use Social Media in your business within a highly regulated industry, we have a common interest. I work in Bogota Colombia in a small business in the pharmaceutical industry and before learning about Social Media Management and working with social media I had asked myself those questions. I wasn’t sure of how to implement Social Media in the company, measure it, align it with the overall company strategy while avoiding fines from regulatory entities and the eyes of competitors looking for a spot to harm the business.
Learning about Social Media was the turning point. It was not just about promoting the company’s products or events, it was about listening to customers, managing the brand, leveraging on employees and creating a Social Media ecosystem that could bring countless benefits to the company. Next I will share 4 different but relevant tips for an effective social media adoption in a highly regulated industry.
What is then the best way to start if you are a small business? The best way I would recommend a small business to start adopting Social Media is to do research and identify Why a social media strategy is needed? Once the need is identified, the next step would be to do an industry and competitor analysis. Are my competitors using social media? How? Are the company customers, suppliers, influencers on social media? By answering those questions, you will have a solid baseline for the social media strategy and grasp an idea of how social media is being used in the industry.
Focus on the brand
Product claims, and product advertisement, are a couple examples of the content that is highly regulated in the industry. However, a focus on the brand might have a stronger impact and you will need to worry less about sanctions. For this a very important aspect is following the 80/20 rule, just as @ Cassie Mcgrath mentioned on her post talking just about yourself will not be very appealing to the audience, try creating value to them by sharing others ideas, analyzing industry news or answering common questions the target audience might have. By doing so and straying true to the brand you will be able to gain trust from the audience, build a culture around the brand and build a community.
Make an effective use of the #HashTag
@Joanna Lee’s blogbite about Hashtags is and incredible source of information to effectively create and use Hashtags, I strongly recommend reading it through and following the well-structured steps. Here, I would like to highlight the fact that adding to your post a Hashtag will brand the post. Remember the 80/20 rule? If you have 8 posts adding value to the audience without mentioning your products, company or benefits but have added a # with the company name you will be promoting yourself that 80% of the time, be careful.
Time and schedule your posts
It is common when you start adopting social media in the company that you are overwhelmed with daily tasks and either find it hard to post every day or simply forget to post. Sometimes it’s hard to research for keywords, analyze the target audience and the metrics of yesterday’s post every day. Try instead to set in the strategy weekly themes within an specific timeframe, a content calendar and the metrics used to evaluate the posts. Doing so, will allow you to schedule in advance the different posts, ensure the content calendar is being followed along with the themes, and that your posts have all been well thought and common errors are minimized (80/20 rule for instance).
Employees are very important in the adoption of social media. This is not only because each while working in your company might through their personal social media networks share content that might be inappropriate to regulatory entities but they might become powerful brand advocates and boost the strength of the brand. Avoiding the first and focusing on the second one is theoretically not hard, it just needs planning and education.
Before empowering employees with the use of social media design a social media policy and a crisis management plan and have it signed or shared to all employees. This will ensure each employee has a clear idea of the content they can and cannot share, what they should and should not include and the consequences of not following the policy. A crisis management plan will help you in solving issues quickly and efficiently without the risk of not knowing how to address an issue and waiting to long to solve it, effects could be devastating.
Finally, teach or train your employees in an adequate way to use social media. How each channel should be used, the reasoning behind being in them, which are the tools to measure, analyze and use them, etc. This will not only ensure risk of inappropriate channel use or content are highly mitigated but empowers employees and allows the company to benefit from an efficient use of social media. Employees could for instance listen to the target audience and present to you innovative ideas on products, services or events that would make your business grow.
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