Social media by its very nature is fast, bi-directional communication, but many companies are plagued with social media policies that hinder agility. Is your social media policy agile? If not, it’s time to jump into modern marketing and have your brand be part of a conversation, not a pushed message.

An agile marketing company uses social media to have one-on-one conversations with customers, and social media policies must encourage, not discourage this type of rapport.

Social media turnaround times are critical

A recent client I worked with reported that before starting agile marketing, its social media policy requires at least 10 separate approvers and 10 to 12 revisions on messaging for any social media campaign to go live.

They soon realized by the time they got their social messages approved, it was too late. Messages were outdated, irrelevant or didn’t add much value.

The other big problem was the approval process made it impossible for them to have any real dialogue with customers on social media.

Traditionally, social media policies were put into place to protect the company from bad publicity. But In a world where brand relationships mean everything, we need to be willing to take on a little more PR risk or we’re faced with something even riskier – our customers going elsewhere.

Empower the team to respond quickly to customers

Social media is by its very nature meant to be two-way communication and its critical that even large, regulated companies are able to trust and empower people to react and respond in real time.

If employees are required to get approvals, communication is delayed and customers will feel ignored and under-valued.

So, what’s a reasonable turnaround time for companies to respond on social media? According to HubSpot, 80 percent of customers expect companies to respond to social media posts within 24 hours. In fact, 50 percent of customers claim they would cease business with a company that fails to respond to a negative social media post. And 62 percent of customers are influenced enough by negative social media comments on a brand that they would cease business with them.

KLM Airlines has some of the best social media response times in the industry since 2014, which has helped them to build better relationships with their customers, according to Econsultancy.  The airline goes above and beyond by allowing customers to tweet lost items directly to the company. A staff member then picks it up off the plane and brings it to them – quick, easy, and a much better way to keep customers happy.

Gap has an interesting social media policy that recognizes mistakes can happen. They simply state, “If you #!%#@# up? Correct it immediately and be clear about what you’ve done to fix it. Contact the social media team if it’s a real doozy.”

Bring legal closer to your team

If you can’t give 100 percent control to your social media team and still require legal sign off, then the next best thing is bringing your legal department to your team.

If legal involvement is needed on a daily basis, having a person from legal as a regular part of your agile team is imperative. This person should attend daily stand ups and be aware of any social media content that may need to be approved that day. She should also be available in real-time for any negative responses from customers that the team needs to immediately address.

If your legal needs are more sporadic, it may be overkill to have a legal representative on your team, but he should be a dotted line team member. This means accessible and available to the team when needed, but not a regular contributor to the team’s work.

Regardless of which structure suits you best, if legal counsel must be part of your social media policy, you need to be closely aligned on response times and the cadence in which your team operates.

If you have a legal team that is used to responding to all of the company, a better structure in agile marketing is to have a representative affiliated with teams. Depending on how often they are needed, it may be a 1:1 relationship or 1-to-several.

Put customers first

While social media policies began as ways to protect the company and controlling how we respond, we need to loosen the reigns and take into account the risk of not being there for our customers. It’s time to focus on relationships with our customers and tearing down the guard rails we’ve put up during the last decade.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”