It's the Ends, Not the Means

A quick Google search can, for the most part, allow anyone to find the most common social media best practices. Everything from knowing your audience and goals to developing strategies and social media policies is information that’s easily available.  Sometimes these best practices become company mandates, but a combination of limited staffing, time and knowledge can lead to stagnation and not moving forward because they're just not feasible.

Simply put, best practices are sometimes too much to ask, and they may not be best for the business.

Best Practices Exist for a Reason

Don’t get me wrong. Best practices belong and are important. A solid social media strategy allows marketers to be more effective because they understand how they’re going to take action versus throwing out tactics to see what sticks. Internal social media policies allow businesses to protect their online reputations.

If social media marketing could be described with one word, one worthy candidate would be agile. No organization has the same needs or the same path to accomplish those needs, and best practices can be molded to meet those needs.

Moldable Best Practices in Action

Aimee Roundtree spoke at SXSW in a panel I attended called Big Social Media Results at Small Organizations.  In her panel she discussed real results being seen by businesses using social media without best practices.

One example, included #RiotCleanup, a hashtage campaign following the London riots to get local businesses running again. The movement was intended to mobilize users, and it attracted 50,000 volunteers before the hashtag was created. Essentially, the campaign developed and the purpose took hold after action got started.

Another example was @AnimalGeneralHospital, which empowers employees to provide an inside look into the hospital. When asked what their strategy is, there isn’t one. The staff isn’t formally trained. It’s just empowered to share the hospital’s story.

Responsible for the Business, Not Best Practices

In the end, it comes down to knowing what the business needs, and using best practices to define how they apply to the end goal. The standard may not be set by what others are doing. Businesses should hold themselves to their own standards and ensure that all internal stakeholders’ expectations are met. Focus on the end goal first. How it is accomplished is secondary, and it may mean choosing the best practices that apply and tweaking the ones that don’t.