Blogger Game Plan


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Blogger Game Plan

  1. 1. Astonish Results Blogger Game Plan <br />Scope: What is a Social Media Engineer aka Blogger?<br />Astonish Results has found it very helpful and profitable to have a dedicated resource(s) to implement and execute a social media strategy for the agency. Typically, we recommend college interns for the position for the following reasons:<br /><ul><li>Interns are incredibly economical
  2. 2. College students utilize social media platforms on an hourly basis and have an excellent grasp of the capabilities of social media platforms and how to operate within them</li></ul>Job Description:<br />Here is the job description/job posting Astonish Results has created for you, please feel free to make adjustments to this listing.<br />Social Networking Engineer Internship<br />Department: Marketing<br />Reports To: Owner<br />Overall Responsibilities: To work diligently to give the agency a presence on all social networking arenas including but not limited to: You Tube, Facebook, NING, Twitter, Word press…<br />Key Areas of Responsibility:<br /><ul><li>Work with all aspects of the agency to effectively market and promote agency and industry news/success stories
  3. 3. To educate the modern consumer about the Independent Agency
  4. 4. To creatively find new outlets and opportunities for the agency to advertize and promote online
  5. 5. To be consistent and professional in all communications
  6. 6. Write at least 5 blogs per week
  7. 7. Create a system to integrate social networking into every area of the agency</li></ul>Term of Employment:<br />At least 1 semester, depending on results and success an offer for longer term employment may be extended<br />Qualifications:<br /><ul><li>Sales aptitude if no work experience
  8. 8. High aptitude for technology and social networking sites
  9. 9. Can do anything attitude
  10. 10. Willingness to work with a team
  11. 11. Professional and creativity
  12. 12. Understanding of how to utilize social networking to market and promote in a business environment </li></ul>Examples of Social Media Engineers Live and in Person!<br />Insurance Journal E Marketing Minute: A Day in the Life of an Agency Blogger<br /><br />Recommended Platforms for the Social Media Engineer to Maintain:<br /><ul><li>Facebook
  13. 13. Twitter
  14. 14. YouTube
  15. 15. LinkedIn
  16. 16. Flickr
  17. 17. On-site Blog
  18. 18. Off-site Blog (wordpress)</li></ul>Social Media Policy<br />Your Social Media Engineer has access to building your online identity! You want to makes sure you protect your agency. Similar to an employee manual or code of conduct your Social Media Engineer should adhere and sign the Social Media Policy included in the appendix.<br /><ul><li>Appendix A- Social Media Web Policy Guide
  19. 19. Appendix B-Social Media Policy Example #1
  20. 20. Appendix C-Social Media Policy Example #2</li></ul>Training Materials:<br /><ul><li>Facebook 101 Webinar:
  21. 21. How to set up a Facebook Fan Page:
  22. 22. Twitter 101 Webinar:
  23. 23. Twitter 201 Webinar:
  24. 24. Youtube Webinar:
  25. 25. LinkedIn: Insurance Marketing Guide to LinkedIn
  26. 26. Flickr: Newbies Guide to Flickr
  27. 27. Wordpress Blogging For SEO (Appendix D)
  28. 28. Search Engine Optimization Guide (see attached)</li></ul>Proposed Social Media Plan<br />Blogging:<br /><ul><li>Onsite Blog
  29. 29. Post agency-related information, examples charitable contributions, new employees, community involvement any type of Agency News
  30. 30. Example:
  31. 31. Off site Wordpress Blogs
  32. 32. Create a blog for each business division, post information and niche specific content on each of these blogs (these are examples, please review with your agency owner and RFM):
  33. 33. Small Business
  34. 34. Large Commercial
  35. 35. Employee Benefits
  36. 36. Financial Services
  37. 37. Personal Lines
  38. 38. Latino Blog
  39. 39. Example of an offsite blog:</li></ul>Twitter:<br /><ul><li>Create account associated w/ an individual employee which works better on Twitter
  40. 40. Get Followers
  41. 41. – White and Yellow page directory for Twitter users – pick people in geographic areas you want to follow and start following
  42. 42. You won’t earn follower sunless you first start following others
  43. 43. Follow brands, celebrities, insurance news sources etc
  44. 44. Objectives
  45. 45. Community building, customer service, teaching, learning, promoting, gathering feedback, conversation marketing, raising awareness for a cause, sharing agency news
  46. 46. Integrate with other social sites as well</li></ul>Facebook:<br /><ul><li>Run 1 facebook page for the company
  47. 47. Work on attracting your clients, partners and employees to “like” the company on facebook
  48. 48. Post events, agency news, and fun engaging interactive posts
  49. 49. Examples
  50. 50.
  51. 51.!/EncharterInsurance?ref=ts </li></ul>YouTube:<br /><ul><li>Maintain a YouTube Channel
  52. 52. Shoot and edit videos based on current events, insurance topics
  53. 53. If you do not have a video camera you can use
  54. 54. Examples:
  55. 55.
  56. 56.
  57. 57.
  58. 58. LinkedIn
  59. 59. Run and maintain a company LinkedIn account
  60. 60. Example:
  61. 61.
  62. 62. Flickr:
  63. 63. Create and maintain a flickr account of company photos
  64. 64. Example:
  65. 65.</li></ul>Metrics:<br /><ul><li>Weekly on Fridays submit the attached spreadsheet to agency management and your RFM
  66. 66. Mondays hold a conference call with your RFM for tips and trick review (until everyone is comfortable)
  67. 67. Goals (sample goals, please review with your agency owner and RFM):
  68. 68. Facebook: Get to 350 fans within 1 month (currently at 206 fans)
  69. 69. Twitter: Get to 100 followers within 1 month (currently at 30 followers)
  70. 70. Blogs: Post on each blog once per week, 5-7 blogs weekly
  71. 71. YouTube: Post at least 1 video per week on YouTube
  72. 72. Linkedin: Post the blogs on LinkedIn and make announcements
  73. 73. Flickr: update Flickr with recent photos (as needed)</li></ul>Crawl, Walk, Run Plan:<br />Crawl (1-2 weeks):<br /><ul><li>Sign Social Media Policy and give to agency management
  74. 74. Meet with leadership of the agency to determine a process for getting information to the social media engineer
  75. 75. Announce the social media engineer with all the departments
  76. 76. Hold a meeting with all managers to meet the social media engineer
  77. 77. Review all training documents and review any questions with the RFM
  78. 78. Set up all social media accounts outlined</li></ul>Walk (next 3 months):<br /><ul><li>Work on achieving metrics every week
  79. 79. Get the process down of communication between the agency and social media engineer
  80. 80. Cycle feedback from RFM into the process
  81. 81. Start networking with other social media engineers for other agencies</li></ul>Run (ongoing):<br /><ul><li>Keep working with Astonish on cutting edge social media concepts
  82. 82. Start following niche markets on facebook and via social media
  83. 83. Engage producers in a social media strategy they can enact
  84. 84. Communicate with other Astonish clients on their social media platforms to make valuable connections that increase your search rankings</li></ul>Appendix A<br />Social Media Policy<br />Social Media Web Policy Guide<br />REPORT: Creating a Social Web Policy for Your Insurance Agency<br />DisclaimerThe purpose of this report is to assist partner agencies in the consideration of issues relevant to creating a social web policy. The report includes only general information, and is not intended to provide advice tailored to any specific agency situations. It was prepared solely as a guide, and is not a substitute for agents and brokers independently evaluating any business, legal or other issues, and is not a recommendation that a particular course of action be adopted. If specific advice is required or desired, the services of your Astonish Results RFM should be sought. <br />There is growing acceptance that agents and brokers can benefit from effective use of the social web. Yet, the opportunity presented by the social web is not without risk. There are traditional concerns surrounding such issues as privacy, errors and omissions, security, and protecting proprietary information, and new issues surrounding the concepts of transparency and personal vs. company brand.<br />Some organizations have chosen to avoid the social web altogether by blocking any access and/or banning use in the work place. On the other end of the spectrum, there are companies with very open policies that encourage employee participation in the social web and have guides as simple as “act intelligently” when engaging in the social web. There is no one size fits all. Your company culture and management philosophy will to a large extent determine the detail of your guidelines and the level of the restrictions placed on the behavior of employees using the social web.<br />The focus of this report is to provide agencies with guidance on establishing an appropriate social web policy customized to the needs of their particular firm. Astonish Results has access to a wealth of information and training materials that presents the considerable marketing and customer service benefits that agencies are achieving today with social media. <br />Since the world of social media continues to evolve rapidly, the appropriate guidance will continue to evolve as well. We recommend that agencies continue to revisit their social media strategies and policies periodically to take advantage of the latest social media developments.<br /> <br />Agency Management’s Role<br />As a first step, the agency’s management needs to give careful thought to the agency’s business goals and how social media tools can support them. Social media is not a goal in itself; rather it may be integrated with your traditional marketing strategies or even replace some of them. Some of your business goals may be building agency awareness, generating leads, establishing the agency’s expertise, building agency relationships, increasing client “touches,” enhancing agency service and being prepared to send mass communications in catastrophe situations. Each of these goals can be supported effectively by various social media practices. It is worth the time and discussion to explore which ones are best suited for your agency’s specific goals. <br />It is important to deploy a social web policy that clearly lays out what is and isn’t permissible when employees are presenting themselves as agency representatives online. Many agents and brokers already have guides outlining use of the Internet and email. For these businesses, additional guidelines covering use of the social web may suffice, and for those that do not, a newly created guide can cover employee use of all of these tools. <br />Decisions to Make Before Writing Your Policy <br />Before you can write a social web policy, you will need to decide:<br />Will your company participate, and if so, what are your goals and what tools will you use?<br />Which employees have an appropriate business use for social media? Can only certain employees use these tools? Can they be used by other employees only after business hours?<br />To what extent will you monitor employee use, and how?<br />When, where and in what manner will you require, allow or not allow employees to reference the agency and their agency affiliation on their personal sites? <br />(Note: Some employees may already mention where they work on their personal social networking sites. This is not necessarily a bad thing and can have a positive impact on the agency’s brand. But, you must educate employees on what is and is not appropriate and/or permissible for their personal profiles, and make sure they are using the agency’s name and brand only as permitted.) <br />A Team Approach<br />We encourage you to assemble a staff team to assess these issues, help write your policy and determine how your agency can take full advantage of social media. Consider including employees who are savvier with technology/social media, “go-getter” producers and employees with an interest in social media. Also, be sure to include those responsible for human resources, legal, security and technology functions, whether or not they are part of your regular staff or a partner/vendor. <br />We strongly encourage management to share goals and plans for social media with its legal counsel and RFM and involve them in developing plans and policies at an early stage so that the risks can be addressed throughout the process. It is critical that your legal counsel help to create the policy and is aware of it before a potentially negative situation occurs, not after. Also, be sure to review your insurance coverage carefully to be satisfied that you have the breadth and depth of desired protection for the variety of exposures attendant to these activities. <br />In addition, you will want to decide who is going to be responsible for managing your organization’s social web participation, because it is not enough to create a policy. The policy also must be properly implemented and consistently monitored and managed. Management should take the lead. This means management should be a supporter, as well as a participant, so that management understands the new media. Beginning from a position of trust is a key concept in gaining employee acceptance. <br />Lastly, be sure that you enforce whatever policy you select. A policy which is not enforced (or worse, inconsistently enforced) in many instances may be worse than no policy at all.<br />Importance of Initial and Ongoing Agency Training<br />It is also important to provide thorough employee training on each of the provisions of the agency’s social networking policy. That training needs to include the impact the employee’s personal use of social media can have on the agency, because of the likelihood of their posts and pictures being seen widely. Since your social media policy is also likely to incorporate several of your other agency policies – such as in the areas of professional conduct, security, protection of intellectual property and confidential information, compliance with laws against defamation, discrimination, etc. – your social media training provides a great opportunity to reinforce these broad agency policies with your employees as well. <br />As mentioned above, it is not possible to provide a guide that will meet the needs of every organization. Yet, there are several key issues and concepts that companies should consider when addressing the creation of their policy.<br /> <br />Checklist of Some Key Steps to Take in Considering a Social Networking Policy for Your Agency<br />In order to orient yourself to what others have done in establishing policies for their companies, we encourage you to start with a review of Debra Shinder’s blog, “10 things you should cover in your social networking policy” because it provides a great framework for a social networking policy and explains why each component is important. <br />Review the social web policies that other organizations you respect have published for ideas that may work for your agency. A few widely referenced examples include:<br />IBM<br />Intel<br />Dell<br />Review the actual social web policies some independent agencies are using which are posted at “Websites & Social Media” on the Agents Council for Technology (ACT) website. As with any policy, ideas gleaned from policies of others should be tailored to the needs and desires of your agency.<br />Consider the following examples of provisions for their appropriateness to include in your social web policy. These examples are a starting point only, and you should determine the extent to which any of these components work for your agency before you adopt them, and what other provisions may be necessary or advisable for your agency.<br /> <br />Examples of Possible Provisions for an Agency Social Web Policy<br />Company Philosophy – Our agency believes it is in the best interest of our organization to grant access to and encourage participation in the social web during business hours provided it is for a business purpose, subject to the terms of our policy. Employees shall continue to be responsible for fulfilling their job responsibilities in a timely and responsive manner. <br />It is important that employees keep comments positive and professional when using social media for business purposes for the agency. Employees should focus on facts and issues, not individuals and organizations, and they should not lead or participate in attacks on individuals or businesses. Employees should not participate in any communications that would be unacceptable in the office.<br />Consider here whether it is appropriate for your firm to have two parts to your policy – the first for the use of internal media limited to employees and the second for the use of external media.<br />Consider whether to restrict access to only certain employees who have a predefined business purpose for using social media; whether to restrict to certain times during the day for some employees; and whether to limit access to particular sites.<br />Definition – For our purposes, the social web includes websites and media (such as video) that allow users to interact with each other and share information, opinion, knowledge and interests.<br />Identify you – Be transparent. In responding to a work related social web activity, be clear about your role and/or position with the company. Posting anonymously or attempting to disguise your identity may be illegal, and even if it is not, will likely generate far more ill will when discovered than if your identity were clear from the outset. When appropriate, use a disclaimer indicating the opinions expressed are yours and not those of the company, if personal opinions on company-related use of social media are permitted. Report to the appropriate person in your agency any posts or comments you feel are inappropriate/illegal, or otherwise detrimental to the agency or likely to escalate and require a response on behalf of the agency (as discussed in #9 below).<br />Employee sites and profiles – It is increasingly easy to connect individuals to their employers, and it is sometimes difficult for readers to know where you’ve drawn the line between your personal and professional lives. Comments and pictures even on personal sites are likely to be widely seen and can reflect back on the agency. If there is any possibility of ambiguity, your personal sites, blog posts, etc. should be required to make clear that they reflect an employee’s own views and not those of the agency. The agency may also want to consider if it wants to restrict employees from taking positions on any social media that conflict with or could undermine the agency and its employees.<br />Recommending others – Again, the line between your opinions as an individual and as an employee is thin. Do not recommend customers, employees, past employees or partners in any way that might be misconstrued as an endorsement by the agency or any of its employees.<br />Note that many legal and HR professionals recommend that you never do more than confirm dates of employment and title for a past or present employee, and that it is likely to be imprudent as a social web activity in any case. Also, it is typically best when making referrals to make more than one for the same purpose and remind recipients to do their own due diligence before selecting anyone to whom they have been referred. .<br />Referring – Do not reference customers, employees or partners without their express consent, and then only as they have agreed to. For example, do not give out personal contact information that is unavailable publicly without advance approval of the person who the information is about. <br />Terms of service – When participating in the social web we expect you to read and fully understand and comply with the terms of service of the site or application. Most specifically, do not provide false names or information. If you have not been expressly approved to bind the agency to terms of use for access to social media of others, seek that approval or have someone who is authorized review and agree to terms of use of other sites before they are used.<br />Use of disclaimers – In addition to the disclaimer on employee sites provided in # 4 above, employees should incorporate a disclaimer in business use of social media that coverage cannot be bound or written using social media communications, just as a disclaimer would be used on voicemail, email or the website. <br />The disclaimer should further state that the information provided is intended to be related to general situations and that questions relating to specific risks and individuals need to be assessed individually using the agency’s regular workflow for such individual consultations.<br />Escalation Procedure – Establish who is responsible for responding to or handling inappropriate/illegal comments posted on one of the agency’s sites or on any site reflecting negatively on the agency or an agency employee (in their status as an employee). Provide employees the procedure to take to inform the appropriate agency personnel should they witness inappropriate comments on social media.<br />Incorporate other agency policies by reference – <br />Use of technology tools for business purposes – If your agency has a policy regarding use of computers, Internet, telephones and other electronic communications tools, this might be appropriate to apply to or modify for social media use as well. Your policy may state that these resources are to be used for business use only, with incidental personal use as long as it does not impact productivity, affect other employees, put your agency at risk or violate other policies, laws, etc. <br />If the agency encourages effective use of social media to benefit the agency, address that the employee must be mindful of the impact of using social media on productivity. Some agencies state that employees may only use the social web for business purposes during agency business hours. This may or may not work for your agency depending on flexible schedules, remote work arrangements, etc. <br />If the policy in place does not already expressly permit monitoring of employees’ use of these tools, that may be helpful to add so that the agency has a way to investigate and assess questions/concerns about the use of these tools for business and their impact on employee performance. <br />Confidentiality – Employees must comply with the agency’s policy regarding proprietary and confidential information. Failure to do so can, at the discretion of the agency, lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. The importance of respecting and adhering to the policies in place to protect the privacy and security of confidential and/or proprietary information is critical.<br />Security – In the same manner as when using email, the Web or other communications tools, employees must not open attachments sent to them via social media (including video and music) unless they know and fully trust the source as one exercising care when sending such information and have good reason to believe the attachment has a clear and appropriate business purpose. The risk of malware that may infect the agency network or create other severe negative consequences makes this very important. <br />Employees should not participate in answering surveys or opening attachments addressed to the general users from unknown sources or from the social media company itself. They should be careful not to get tricked into divulging personal client or employee information or agency confidential information in responding to social media requests due to risks such as phishing. As soon as the discussion moves to an individual client situation, the employee should move the discussion to the regular agency channels for such client communication such as email and the phone. Employees should also be instructed to activate the security settings on their social media sites.<br />Privacy – Employees must comply with the agency’s policies and legal requirements regarding privacy and protection of information. Employees should respect the privacy of all other employees and customer information and not use personally identifiable information on social media.<br />Copyright – For our company’s protection, as well as that of all its employees, it is mandatory that you comply with all intellectual property laws, including copyright laws and trademark laws. When referencing an article, blog or other material, provide a link back to the source whenever possible if that source allows linking, and if it does not, linking is not appropriate. The copyright laws include strict rules on when content owned by others can be copied – adhere to those “fair use” rules, and if there is any question about if something can be copied and used on a site you control or post to, do not do so until it is approved by someone in the agency with authority to make that decision. <br />The agency should be clear on any sites it controls that it has the right to take down any posts or comments, including, but not limited to, those that may violate another party’s copyright or trademark rights.<br />Libel & Defamation – These laws apply fully to what is said or written about an individual or business using social media, and the damages can be substantial because of the potential broad and rapid dissemination of the information. Employees should keep their comments accurate, truthful, positive and professional; and focus on issues not individuals and organizations; and respect the privacy of others.<br />Rules for use of logos and trademarks – Employees should not use agency or carrier logos or trademarks in personal or business social media without specific authorization from the agency and carrier (where carrier logo is involved).<br />Trade libel and trade secrets – Employees must not make any false or misleading statements about the products or services of competitors, or disclose proprietary or confidential information about the agency, its carriers or any other entity.<br />Antitrust – Employees should not participate in calls to action (express or implied) that are anti-competitive, including comments that may result in a boycott or refusal to do business with a carrier or competitor. <br />Employment and discrimination laws – Employees must comply with all agency policies and laws relating to employment and discrimination.<br />Endorsements and testimonials – Employees must comply with all disclosure requirements and other laws that apply to making statements about products and services, whether on social media, such as in blogs, or elsewhere, such as advertisements, websites, etc.<br />Compliance with federal and state discovery, document retention and other laws and agency procedures – Employees should copy and paste any client specific social media communication into the agency management system and record an activity in the same manner they would in using other media. Employees should follow all other agency policies and procedures on handling information about clients, prospective clients or the agency when using social media.<br />Advertising statutes & regulations – Social media posts are communications subject to various federal and state laws/regulations, including characterization as advertising under some state laws, so employees should make sure they are complying with all such laws in using social media. <br />Disciplinary action – Failure to adhere to all agency policies and procedures or applicable laws/regulations may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.<br />Social Web Code of Conduct<br />In addition to a specific policy, we encourage agencies to provide employees with guidance on social web etiquette. Common themes for such guidance might include the items below, subject to all other agency policies:<br />Speak in the first person and be yourself – Let your personality and interests show in your online presence.<br />Be thoughtful and respectful of others – Respond to ideas not people. Make comments only in a positive and respectful manner, without personal attacks, social insensitivity, discrimination, harassment or other communications that would be unacceptable at the office or for the agency.<br />Add value – Be interesting, innovative and informative. Share your knowledge and experience in an honest way, with a focus on factual information. If you make a mistake admit it.<br />Listen – Listen to what others are saying, what they mean and what they like and dislike.<br />Use the social media to build relationships, not make the hard sell – Treat your virtual networking the same as your networking at a civic club or community organization.<br />Each social networking site has its own culture – Learn its customs and “lingo.”<br />“Design for Possibility – Then Design for Risk”<br />Joshua-Michéle’s statement above provides a great perspective for agents and brokers as they first design their strategy to capitalize on social networking to benefit their agencies and then develop their social networking policy to manage the risks these new media present. He wrote in his blog:<br /> <br />“Disclosure of sensitive information is usually the biggest fear that companies have around social media. Really, this is not a new problem – email and telephone pose the same risks and are harder to monitor.<br />“I talk a lot about beginning from a position of trust – While there are possible negatives involved in having employees on the social Web, most employees have common sense. Begin with a set of possibilities first. These should be tied to business objectives (increasing awareness, improving customer service, gaining customer insight and so on). Then draw up a list of worst-case scenarios (bad mouthing the company, inappropriate language, leaking IP [intellectual property], to name a few). Modify the guiding principles for your employees below to help mitigate the risks you’ve identified. <br /> “If you get everyone on board first imagining what is possible — you will enroll them in helping you move forward. Often I find that IT / Legal (the people charged with lowering risk) are not engaged in any planning — just given a program that scares the heck out of them — and they do their job: tear it down because it is risky.  Engage them early and often in your planning.” (- July 30th 2009 - Joshua-social media guidelines the sequel Michele “Social Media Guidelines – The Sequel )<br />This report has focused on designing a policy to manage the “risks” agencies face when using social media. As mentioned above, Astonish Results has access to webinars, tutorials and other information that explores the exciting “possibilities” agencies can achieve by being active participants on the social web. <br />Appendix B:<br />Social Media Policy<br />Social Web Policy Example #1<br />DisclaimerAstonish Results is providing this sample agency social media policy solely as an example to assist agencies and brokers in creating a social web policy appropriate and customized for their particular firm. This example is not a substitute for agents and brokers independently evaluating any business, legal or other issues, and is not a recommendation that a particular course of action be adopted. In addition to this example, we strongly urge agencies to consider all of the issues contained in Astonish Results’ report “Creating a Social Web Policy for Your Insurance Agency.” If specific advice is required or desired, the services of your RFM should be requested. <br />Social Media Policy _____ Agency & Subsidiaries <br />OBJECTIVE: The goal is to become a part of the industry conversation and promote web-based sharing of ideas and exchange of information. Social Media is to be used to convey information about company products and services, promote and raise awareness of AGENCY’S brand, search for potential new markets, communicate with employees and customers to brainstorm, issue or respond to breaking news or negative publicity, and discuss corporate, business-unit and department-specific activities and events. <br />AGENCY must ensure that use of these communications maintains our brand identity, integrity and reputation while minimizing actual or potential legal risks, whether used inside or outside the workplace. It is the right and duty of AGENCY to protect itself and its employees from unauthorized disclosure of information. AGENCY’S social media policy includes rules and guidelines for company-authorized and personal forms of social media. <br />Corporate Rules and Guidelines<br />The following apply to the use of all social media tools during company time. <br />Employees must be authorized by AGENCY Corporate Marketing (NAME) or by your manager based on your job responsibilities to engage in work-time social media sites. <br />Only AGENCY Corporate Marketing can prepare and modify content for AGENCY’S site located on http://www.___________. <br />For all other social media sites, including AGENCY Intranet; content must be relevant, add value and meet the specified goals or purposes listed above. If uncertain with any information, material or conversation, discuss the content with your manager. <br />All employees must identify themselves as employees of AGENCY when posting comments or responses. <br />Any copyrighted information requires written reprint authorization before it can be posted. <br />Business units and departments are responsible for ensuring all information complies with AGENCY’S written rules and guidelines. Business units and department heads are authorized to remove any content that does not meet the rules and guidelines of the policy or may be illegal or offensive. Removal of such information will be done without permission of the author or advance warning. <br />AGENCY expects all guests to abide by all rules and guidelines of the company policy and holds the right to take same action as above in removing content. <br />Personal Rules and Guidelines<br />AGENCY respects the right of employees to use social media forums for self-publishing and self expression on personal time. However, unless specifically authorized by the company to do so as part of employee’s position, employees are not permitted to use forms of social media or technology on the Internet during working hours or at any time on company computers or other company-supplied devices. <br />Employees are expected to follow the guidelines and policies set forth below to provide a clear line between you as the individual and you as the employee.<br />You are personally responsible for your commentary. You can be held personally liable for commentary that is considered defamatory, obscene, proprietary or libelous by any offended party, not just AGENCY. <br />You cannot use employer-owned equipment, including computers, company-licensed software or other electronic equipment, nor facilities or company time, to conduct personal communication. <br />You cannot harass, threaten, discriminate or disparage against employees or anyone associated with or doing business with AGENCY. <br />If you choose to identify yourself as an AGENCY employee, please understand that some readers may view you as a spokesperson for AGENCY. <br />You cannot post the name, trademark or logo of the company or any company-privileged information, including copyrighted information or company-issued documents. <br />You cannot post photographs of other employees, clients, vendors, suppliers or company products, nor can employees post photographs of persons engaged in AGENCY business or at company sponsored events. <br />You are to contact Corporate Marketing (NAME) immediately if contacted by the media or press about any post that relates to AGENCY business. <br />Employer Monitoring<br />Employees are cautioned that they should have no expectation of privacy while using the Internet. Your postings can be reviewed by anyone, including AGENCY. <br />AGENCY reserves the right to monitor comments or discussions about AGENCY, its employees and clients and the industry, including products and competitors, posted by anyone. AGENCY reserves the right to use content management tools to monitor, review or block content on sites that violate AGENCY rules and guidelines. <br />Reporting Violations<br />AGENCY requests and strongly urges employees to report any violations or possible or perceived violations to their manager or Human Resources. <br />Discipline for Violations<br />AGENCY investigates and responds to all reports of violations of the social media rules and guidelines and other related policies. Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action up to and including immediate termination. AGENCY reserves the right to take legal action where necessary against employees who engage in prohibited or unlawful conduct. <br />Acknowledgment<br />Employees are required to sign written acknowledgement that employees received, read, understood and agreed to comply with the company’s social media rules and guidelines and any other related policy, including electronic policies, discrimination and harassment, ethical conduct and confidentiality, renewals and trade secrets. <br />DATE<br />ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND UNDERSTANDING OF<br />Agency & SubsidiariesSocial Media Policy <br />I have received my copy of AGENCY policy on social media. I know that I must read the policy so that I understand my rights and responsibilities as an employee of this company. <br />I also understand I may contact Human Resources if I need additional information about this or any other policy or procedure of AGENCY. <br />________________________________________          _____________________________ (Employee Signature)          (Date)  ________________________________________ (Print Name) <br />This page is to be submitted to Human Resources and will become a part of your employment file. Thank you.<br />* RETURN THIS PAGE TO HUMAN RESOURCES IMMEDIATELY *<br />Appendix C<br />Social Media Policy<br />Social Web Policy Example #2<br />DisclaimerAstonish Results is providing this sample agency social media policy solely as an example to assist clients in creating a social web policy appropriate and customized for their particular firm. This example is not a substitute for agents and brokers independently evaluating any business, legal or other issues, and is not a recommendation that a particular course of action be adopted. In addition to this example, we strongly urge agencies to consider all of the issues contained in Astonish Results’ report “Creating a Social Web Policy for Your Insurance Agency.” If specific advice is required or desired, the services of your RFM should be requested.<br />AGENCY Social Networking/Media Policy<br />-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------<br />I. Statement of Purpose & Philosophy<br />The purpose of this Social Networking/Media policy (hereinafter referred to as the policy) is to establish clear and reasonable guidelines for the use of social media and networking sites. <br />The philosophy of the policy is to ensure that all interested persons representing the Agency portray a professional image and behave in a manner consistent with our Code of Conduct policy when engaging in social media and networking sites.<br />II. Statement of Scope<br />The policy applies to all Agency personnel, or representative thereof.<br />III. Definitions<br />Social Media Site: A social media site is online content created by individuals or organizations to distribute news, information, images, video and other material. It also supports the opportunity for social interaction and commentary. Examples of social media sites include, but are not limited to, blog sites, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, StumbleUpon, and Wikipedia.<br />Social Networking Site: A social networking site is designed to connect people with common interests via the Internet. These sites strive to create an online community to discuss common interests via text, images and video on topics such as business, hobbies, personal development, religion or politics. Examples of social networking sites include, but are not limited to, LinkedIn, FaceBook, MySpace, Skype and Oovoo.<br />IV. Statement of Policy<br />It is in the best interest of the Agency to encourage participation in the social web arena in accordance with this policy and all other Agency policies. The absence of, or lack of explicit reference to a specific site, does not limit the extent of the application of this policy.<br />V. Social Networking/Media Procedure<br />Confidentiality. Participation on the social web must comply with the Agency's Confidentiality policy.<br />Terms of Service. When participating in the social web, compliance with the terms of service of the site or application is expected. Refrain from providing false names and or information.<br />Online Opinions. Personal blogs and other online opinion postings should have clear disclaimers that the view expressed by the author in the blog is the author's alone and do not represent the views of the Agency. They should be written in the first person and be clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the Agency.<br />Code of Conduct and Proprietary Information. Information published on social media sites should comply with the Agency's Code of Conduct policy. This also applies to comments posted on the internet, blogs, forums, and social networking sites. Proprietary and/or private information is not to be discussed or referred to on such sites, even in private messages, because of security concerns. This includes, but is not limited to Agency financial information, intellectual property, information about customers, companies, employees, partners, etc.<br />Reference to Other Parties. Referencing or citing any of the Agency's employees, clients, partners, or customers without their express consent is strictly prohibited. Be respectful to the Agency, other employees, customers, partners, and competitors.<br />Purpose. Add value by being interesting, informative, and innovative. Share your knowledge and experience in an honest way being sure to separate opinion from fact. Express opinions, but do so without resorting to personal attacks, social insensitivity, discrimination, or harassment.<br />Copyright Laws. Respect copyright laws, and reference or cite sources appropriately. Plagiarism applies online as well.<br />Permanent Record. Remember that the Internet is " forever" , and you should not post anything on the Internet that will tarnish your reputation or that of the Agency. <br />Productivity Impact. Social media activities should not interfere with work commitments. Refer to Internet Use policy.<br />Disciplinary Action. Violations of this policy could result in immediate disciplinary action, up to, and including termination of employment.<br />By signing this social media policy, I am confirming that I have read the policy in its entirety and understand I must adhere to all guidelines stated herein. <br />Employee Signature:________________________Date:_____________<br />Manager Signature: ________________________Date:_____________<br />Appendix D<br />Social Media Engineer Training<br />Wordpress Blogging for SEO <br />Simple Tips for SEO Blogging (Wordpress specific)<br />There are many different plug-ins and techniques to help SEO on blogs. It can seem like a confusing, never-ending process, but a few simple steps at the beginning and some nurturing along the way will position your blog for success with search engines. <br />It’s important to become familiar with the process of hunting for and uploading “plug-ins,” which are tools that affect a site’s SEO, appearance and functionality. Think of it like online shopping, except plug-ins are free. But hunter beware, not all plug-ins are seamless and without bugs so look at other blogs and check the plug-in’s comments or rankings to determine if they’re worthwhile.<br />SEO Tip # 1: Make it clean and readable<br />No one is going to link to or read a blog that is a cluttered mess. Take the proper steps to make it clean and elegant if that’s your style, or add some color and personal style that shows your agency’s culture, just make it’s an easy reading experience.<br />SEO Tip #2: Use Targeted Keywords in the Post Titles<br />Post titles should make use of targeted keywords (NJ Insurance, Auto Insurance Quotes, Contractor’s Insurance etc.) and should be mentioned often in the article, while still sounding natural. The titles should not duplicted on the same site since this can confuse the search engines and influence your rankings.<br />It is a good idea to make a list of keywords you would like to focus on and have them handy for your post titles.<br />SEO Tip # 3: Make your Blog’s Page Titles Interesting and Keyword-Rich<br />Page titles should be carefully thought out. Use appropriate keywords that you want to target. It is especially important if you are going to have a list of pages appear on the front page of your site. On each page, you should have a specific focus which draws traffic based on the title so one page for car insurance, one for commercial etc. Make your titles appealing and interesting in the first couple of words. Avoid unnecessary words like “a” and “the” at the beginning of the title, as you have a limited number of words to grab the attention of the person searching the search engines for a topic.<br />SEO Tip # 4: Use a Google Sitemap<br />This is a tool that can get your site indexed faster by Google, and it is a must-have for any Wordpress site. It helps Google find out what pages are on your site. You can make a sitemap with a simple plug-in that allows you to turn on the sitemap at the flip of a button.<br />SEO Tip # 5: Customize Your Permalinks<br />This is one of the most important things you can do for a blog as far as SEO goes. You want to get the title of your post in the URL itself and many plug-ins allow you to do this from the editing page. If you do not make the changes, the default structure will appear in the URL, which consists of numbers and question marks. This does nothing for SEO, and your posts would not be picked up as quickly, and would not rank as well.<br />It’s the difference between:<br /><br />and<br /><br />SEO Tip # 6: Create Tags<br />Creating tags helps the search engines when they are crawling your site. They are only one or two words that briefly describe what your post is all about. Search engines use tags to help categorize, index and find your posts faster. Tagging can be done as soon as you complete a post, and only takes a few seconds. Don’t use more than 7-10 tags per post or they lose effectiveness<br />SEO Tip # 7: Do Some Linking (Lots for better results)<br />You can cross-link your posts to other posts you have on your blog. You can either do this manually, or by using a plugin. If you have a post that you think is important, or a sales page on your blog, you can link to it to give the page added importance. You can also link to your blogs from the comments section of other blog sites, just make sure you’re adding something relevant to the conversation and not just leaving a link.<br />SEO Tip # 8: Set Up Keyword Inspired Categories<br />Categories will tidy up your site into a neat and orderly presentation of content that is good for both your visitors and the search engines. It is like cataloguing a file cabinet full of loose papers into separate piles of information that are readily available. If you have the permalinks turned on for your blog, you will see the category listed in the URL as well as the name of the post. This helps with SEO, and your visitors will appreciate seeing what is on the post directly from the URL.<br />SEO Tip # 9: Use an All-In-One SEO Pack (VIBE SEO requires little effort)<br />This plugin generates META tags automatically, or you can set any META keywords and descriptions you want. It works well with other plugins, and gives you the flexibility to try ranking for different keywords if you are not being properly recognized for one.<br />SEO Tip #10: Make friends with your web community<br />The BEST thing you can do for your SEO is to get a steady stream of keyword-specific, organic inbound links from other reputable blogs and websites. This is where the content becomes so important. Whether you’re giving props to local businesses, sharing insurance news that may affect the community or posting pictures and a story about charitable endeavors, you want content that compels people to visit and link to your blog.<br />SEO Tip #11: Have a blogroll and strive to be on others<br />A blogroll is simply a list of links on your sidebar to other blogs or sites that you read and recommend. By joining the “blogosphere,” you’re in a community where people are generally willing to reciprocate the sharing of links as long as you’re blog is relevant in some way. DON’T just go asking people you’ve never met if they’ll add you to a blogroll, post some comments on their blog or wait until you’ve communicated in some way before asking favors.<br />SEO Tip #12: After -post activities<br /><ul><li>One well-optimized, well-written post shared with your community is better than 5 well-optimized, well-written posts that are published and ignored. (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and anywhere relevant you can post links toyou post)
  85. 85. Leave comments in other blog or article sites (include links to your relevant posts)
  86. 86. Share links to older blog entries if they’re still relevant
  87. 87. Reference older posts in newer posts
  88. 88. Backlinks are your gold, they are BIGGEST determining factor in SEO
  89. 89. Forge relationships with other bloggers that will result in reciprocal backlinks
  90. 90. Make your content worth linking to – play off people’s egos</li></ul>There are other things you can do to help optimize SEO on a WP blog, but if you follow these recommendations, you will be well on your way to having a blog that the search engines pay attention to. Of course, you still need something worth reading, but that’s another day.<br />