Social media has emerged to be an undeniably important asset for companies worldwide. Marketers have devoted 23.2% of their entire marketing budget in 2020 to invest heavily in the growth of social media channels and with good reason.
Digital platforms can aid in captivating new audiences, solving customer service queries, enhancing brand awareness, and even increasing sales. Think about it. How many times have you “Swiped Up to Purchase” on a product link on Instagram?
But as we know, the power that comes with the benefits of social media is directly proportional to the amount of responsibility on the team that handles it. Operating the company’s social media comes with its own set of risks. A misinformed post on any social media platform can fully spiral into a PR crisis or cause legal trouble.
Here’s where a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Manual comes into the picture. Creating a written outline of processes that can be followed by your social media team makes your strategies safe and consistent. This manual makes your company’s social media profiles scalable as new employees join the team.
What is an SOP Manual?
A social media SOP manual is a handbook or code of conduct for your social media team’s employees. Because the social media landscape is continuously changing, you’ll need to update your social media policy on a frequent basis.
It’s no secret that social media is a collaborative endeavor. As we all know, it’s a sphere where a lot of time and effort is required. Usually from a large group. You can always find someone eager to assist you with your social media strategy, even if you’re a little business. We’re already talking about a large social media team, or even several smaller teams, each dedicated to a specific role, for large firms and corporations.
When standard operating procedures are put into an SOP manual, it provides a more comprehensive picture of how the business should operate in order to achieve its objectives, provide excellent service, and operate efficiently. It boosts productivity by ensuring consistency in practices across the organization.
Benefits of Social Media SOP Manual
You might be concerned that your social media SOP Manual contains too many rigid guidelines. Will it detract from the authenticity you’re aiming for in your articles or limit your employees’ creative freedom? Fortunately, if implemented properly through well-reputed online documentation tools, the SOP manual will not jeopardize the creative freedom you seek to preserve.
Here are a few major benefits to assembling a detailed social media SOP manual:
- Keeps your brand’s voice, tone, and messaging consistent across all social media platforms
- Avoids a public relations disaster as a result of a possibly offensive post
- Allows staff to deal with legal and regulatory challenges with tact
- Ascertains that each new employee has the resources necessary to spread a positive, consistent, and valuable corporate message throughout social media
- Ensures that customers’ and stakeholders’ personal information is kept private
- Encourages your staff to use their imaginations while generating and posting branded material, as long as they follow the company’s guidelines
Steps to Write an Effective SOP Manual
Writing an SOP manual can surely seem like a daunting task. The following step-by-step rundown makes it easy for you to draft an informative document. This helps your social media team function efficiently and in a coherent manner.
Step 1: Establish Clear Objectives
Standard operating procedures are more than just a set of regulations. It’s critical to emphasize both the “why” and “how” of each procedure. This means thinking of the goals and keeping the end result in mind.
Consider the issues you need to solve when the social media team gathers a group to brainstorm. What is the best strategy to deal with the problems of the different platforms? Is the method in line with your company’s basic values? What role does the SOP play in your overall aims and mission?
While you may not include a detailed explanation in every SOP, communicating the reason for the rule on a regular basis can help employees understand why procedures are important. It can also assist newcomers in making excellent decisions in difficult situations where it is confusing to recognize how to apply the rules.
Step 2: Pick a Format
It’s likely that your organization already has some standard operating procedures in place for other procedures in the knowledgebases. Those documents can simply be used as templates for chosen formatting requirements.
Try one of these ideas if you don’t have any documents to use as a reference:
- An uncomplicated steps format: This format is best for routine operations that are quick and simple to follow. This type of format is typically a simple numbered or bulleted list with short, straightforward sentences that are obvious and easy to follow, in addition to safety standards and other mandatory documents.
- A hierarchical steps format: You might want to utilize the structure of the hierarchical steps if your procedures have a lot of steps with certain decisions. This includes a bulleted or numbered list of primary actions is frequently followed by a list of detailed substeps.
- A flowchart format: When you wish to map out and plan procedures with numerous possible outcomes, a flowchart becomes a suitable option. When the outcomes aren’t always foreseeable, this is a good option.
Step 3: Align Inputs from Stakeholders
A thorough SOP manual cannot be written by a single individual alone. The next appropriate step to curate a useful document is to seek ideas and comments from the social media experts and stakeholders.
Find out who has the most knowledge of the present content creation process, and speak with both; the employees who will follow the SOP and the supervisors who will enforce it.
This will provide you with a bigger picture and allow you to see where processes are performing well and where they could be improved. You may also wish to seek out external specialists or speak with your legal department for some rules, particularly those in high-liability areas.
Step 4: Determine the Target Audience
Just like apt audience targeting increases the demands, knowing who your audience is might assist you to decide how to write your SOP paper. Consider the following:
- What prior knowledge of social media platforms do they have? Are they already acquainted with the company’s structure and procedures? You must write to your audience’s level of understanding — dumb it down or make it too complicated, and you will lose them.
- What is their command of the English language? It’s possible that your target audience does not speak your native tongue. If that’s the case, you might try to employ more images rather than words as research shows pictures are easier to comprehend than words. You can also use online documentation tools that enable you to store manuals in multiple languages.
- Are they brand-new hires? Your SOP documentation should be very extensive and training-oriented when taking on new personnel. You want to make sure that no matter who does a task, the results are consistent.
Step 5: Compile All the Procedures
After you have gathered all the necessary material, it is time to write the first draft. You can include as much information as you want in this draft. At this checkpoint, having too much is preferable to having too little.
At this step, you should have documented your present procedures, compared several people’s versions, and started compiling them together into a single SOP. Here’s where you iron out the inconsistencies in how different people perform each task and design a single formal procedure.
Step 6: Review and Revise for Relevancy
It’s likely that your SOP handbook may require multiple updates before being released in its final form. Has it been reviewed by your subject matter experts to ensure that all of the languages are precise and understandable?
Make sure you test the methods as well. Attempt to follow the process as specified, or have an employee from the social media team follow the SOP while you watch. This will assist you in ensuring that each step is clear and easy to follow.
As regulations and processes change and your organization expands, your SOP manual should evolve as well. Make sure you evaluate and update your SOPs on a regular basis. Edit and proofread the SOP once it has been properly documented. It could also be beneficial to have someone who isn’t involved in the process read it to ensure that it makes sense.
Your social media team can benefit from an SOP that is basic and easy to understand. You can adhere to the above-mentioned steps and compose a uniform procedure for all the processes. This can include the type of content to be created, designing the content calendar, and engaging successfully with the audience on different platforms. Your manual is considered to be effective when a fresh employee in the social media team can pick it up and use it actionably.