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Navigating the digital era: social media tips for success

As seen in the October Edition of Bowl's Queensland's Queensland Bowler magazine.

An issue that keeps popping up in the news lately is the blurred lines of social media in business – the ultimate double-edged sword.  We’ve all seen businesses that run great social media pages which not only provide us with a source of laughter, but also communicate upcoming events and promotions, and position themselves as the place to be – I’m sure many of you can easily name your favourites. 

On the flipside, however, we’ve all witnessed – or at least heard about – the very real reputational damage that social media can cause. From dreaded one-star reviews, to disgruntled employees and patrons posting nasty comments that we can’t remove quick enough, and cases like Israel Folau, where employees post opinions on their personal page that can have a direct (or indirect) impact on an organisation’s reputation.

It’s an issue that many organisations are unsure how to navigate. And given the rate at which social media continues to evolve, it’s no surprise that we’re often caught behind the eight ball. However, when it comes to social media, one bad experience or nasty comment can spread like wildfire, so it’s important that you have guidelines in place to mitigate the risks. In the case of social media, prevention is always better than the ‘cure’. This month, we share our top tips for club committees when managing their social media activity.

Set the Rules

Often clubs may choose to deal with issues like social media under their other policies such as a Code of Conduct or Member Protection Policy, and while this can work effectively to provide some general guidelines and restrictions, as social media is changing so quickly, it is often more practical to develop a separate social media policy. 

Having a social media policy separate to the other policies can make it easier to go into more detail on specific social media issues, to deal with the operation of the club’s own social media accounts, and make it  easier to update and available for easy access to members.

A well drafted social media policy often will cover off on issues such as the following:

  • Gaining permission to post images;
  • Posting in an official capacity (i.e. on behalf of the club);
  • Dealing with sensitive and controversial issues;
  • Complying with relevant laws; and
  • Disciplinary processes.

It is also important to ensure that any disciplinary processes under the club’s constitution or by-laws are broad enough to enable to the club to take appropriate action if members are making inappropriate posts on social media. Similarly you need to have a suitable policy in place to manage social media issues relating to the club’s employees.

Follow the Leader

As we know, the latest trends and social media platforms can be difficult to keep up with, so it is important that you have the right person in charge of your social media accounts. As well as adding that marketing magic for the club, your ‘influencer’ should also be the contact person for any members, guests or third parties that have any concerns about your club or something that has been posted. As we all know, trust is a must!

Don’t Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Even if you have the best social media policy, and a great social media manager, from time to time, social media issues will undoubtedly pop up, and to protect the reputation of the club, it’s important that these are dealt with quickly and efficiently. 

Depending on the nature of the issue, you may need to remove a post, request that another user or organisation remove their post, get in touch with the platform manager, or even issue an apology. As many serious issues can arise on social media, it’s important to ensure that as much information as possible is collected before making a decision, but once that process is completed, management need to decide quickly on the best course of action, and follow through as soon as possible. Timing is critical when the internet is involved, and social media is no exception.

Having pre-prepared example responses to negative feedback, complaints or inappropriate comments can help to ensure the club can react quickly and consistently when issues arise. You should also have a communications plan in the event that an incident escalates with the media to ensure all enquiries and public comments are directed to the appropriate person who is prepared to respond appropriately.

"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."