In business, credibility is built on promises kept and commitments honored. Whether sealing deals or forging collaborations, the backbone of these relationships often lies in service level agreements (SLAs), one of which is a Social Media Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Traditionally, this SLA is a critical component of any outsourcing and vendor contract that forms an alignment between the client/department or vendor and your company and outlines service expectations and responsibilities for all parties involved.
But what exactly is an SLA, and what consists of it to make it so important and necessary for businesses? Delve into this guide to uncover all about Social Media SLAs, along with a template to prepare one yourself.
What Is A Social Media Service Level Agreement (SLA)?
A Social Media Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a formalized document that outlines the terms, expectations, and commitments of both the company and its social media team with its stakeholders or clients regarding the quality of service expected. It establishes clear expectations and guidelines on certain agreed-upon standards, parameters, and key performance indicators (KPIs) of the social media marketing agency that vary.
A Social Media Service Level Agreement (SLA) is made in a way that emphasizes that the agreement is for both parties and should be fair to either of them. This document serves as a framework for managing customer expectations and ensuring that social media channels are utilized in an optimum way to engage with customers. However, SLAs can be between companies and external suppliers and two departments in the same company as well.
What Are The Components Of A Social Media Service Level Agreement (SLA)?
A Social Media Service Level Agreement (SLA) comprises several key components, each playing a crucial role in defining the terms, expectations, and commitments related to a business's presence on social media platforms. Here are the 7 essential components of a Social Media SLA:
1. Response Time Guidelines
Being one of the most essential components of Social Media SLA, it's very important to clearly outline the expected time frame for responding to various types of interactions on social media, which can be customer queries and complaints in the form of comments, messages, and mentions. The SLA should specify the maximum response time for each type of inquiry, measured and tracked, based on the urgency of the same.
2. Content Creation Guidelines
The SLA could clearly define the tone, style, messaging guidelines, frequency and timing of posts, and the process of reviewing and content approval for the social media posts to ensure consistency and alignment with the brand's voice before it is published.
3. Issue Resolution Protocols
It's very important to issue resolution protocols in case of an escalation, the procedure for which should be clearly defined. The SLA should outline proper circumstances under which an escalation can happen and define a clear hierarchy of senior management, legal or compliance teams, or technical support teams. It should state which department should handle which issue if such a situation arises.
4. Monitoring and Analytics Parameters
While preparing an SLA, identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure and evaluate the success of social media efforts. This can include social media metrics, such as engagement rates, website traffic, follower growth, and sentiment analysis, and to monitor the same, you can get your hands on social media monitoring tools like Statusbrew for maximum efficiency. And if you prefer any other tool, you need to specify the same in the document for optimal tracking.
5. Roles and Responsibilities
While preparing an SLA, it is important to clearly outline the responsibilities of team members involved in social media management, including community managers, social media management teams, content creators, third-party vendors, and customer support representatives, to avoid future confusion. This will ensure that each individual or team understands their roles and responsibilities and manages them diligently.
6. Crisis Communication Plan
This is one of the most crucial components of an SLA, where organizations or businesses must define a comprehensive plan or strategy for addressing and managing social media crises such as negative comments, reviews, inappropriate content, and other potential issues. The document should outline key communication strategies, including identifying and addressing, drafting prepared responses, and determining spokespersons.
7. Training and Development Plans
If you want your team to deliver the standards set out in the SLA, then you must outline plans for the training of your team members on social media best practices, customer service skills, data privacy, security policies, platform changes, and new tools so that they are best equipped and most updated. Hence, comprehensively lay down the professional development initiatives you want to take to keep the social media team informed and skilled.
By incorporating these components into a Social Media SLA, businesses can create a comprehensive and effective framework for managing their social media presence, ensuring consistency, responsiveness, and adherence to strategic goals.
Why Does Your Business Need a Social Media Service Level Agreement?
Implementing a Social Media Service Level Agreement (SLA) is very important for businesses, especially large enterprises, and not doing so can have several negative implications in the long run. As you navigate the complex landscape of social media, some of the problems you can face without a proper SLA are the following:
Negative Customer Experience: Lacking a proper Social Media SLA will lead to negative customer experience as they will be left dissatisfied due to untimely and inconsistent responses.
Lack Of Coordination: Failing to implement a proper Service Level Agreement can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication as both parties may not be on the same page in terms of standards and results delivered.
Staggering Crisis Management: Not having predefined protocols for handling PR crises might lead to confusion and potential damage to the brand's reputation, the worst-case scenario being legal action due to a non-existent service level agreement.
Decreasing Performance Improvement: Without a proper Social Media SLA, you might come across missed KPIs, nonpayment, late payment, misuse of communication, and client dissatisfaction, leading to the loss of potential clients, thus hindering performance improvement.
Wastage Of Valuable Time And Resources: The absence of Social Media SLA may lead to excess time being spent on recapping a lengthy agreement, especially if you have to brief and explain its terms and conditions all over again to a new department or stakeholders if the original one leaves.
While these might be some of the significant problems you might face due to the absence of a detailed Social Media SLA, there might be other reasons that will make it necessary for a business to have the same for effective social media management in the digital age.
What Are The Benefits Of A Social Media Service Level Agreement (SLA)?
Implementing a Social Media Service Level Agreement (SLA) offers a multitude of benefits for businesses aiming to have a smooth agency-client/stakeholder relationship.
Here are the key advantages you can have:
1. Establishes Clear Communication: When working with multiple clients, departments, and third-party vendors, you might need to establish clear and transparent guidelines of communication, and Social Media SLAs come in extremely handy in this regard. It is a formal document that documents all the necessary clauses led down by a company to establish expectations and avoid potential future miscommunications.
2. Enhanced Customer Experience: With a Social Media SLA, you can ensure timely and consistent responses to customer inquiries, response times, and quality of service, ensuring improved customer satisfaction, positive relationships, and word-of-mouth recommendations.
3. Efficient Resource Allocation: A Social Media SLA helps businesses allocate clear roles, responsibilities, and resources within the social media team, ensuring that the same streamlines workflows and maximizes productivity for high-priority issues and inquiries.
4. Crisis Management Preparedness: Having predefined protocols in the Social Media SLA for handling negative comments, complaints, or sensitive issues, such as data privacy and security concerns, enables businesses to respond swiftly and manage risks to prevent potential damage to the brand's reputation.
5. Performance Measurement and Improvement: A Social Media SLA provides a framework for tracking performance metrics and KPIs for measuring social media performance and allows businesses to assess the effectiveness of their strategies, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions for continuous improvement.
How To Write A Social Media Service Level Agreement?
Writing a Social Media Service Level Agreement (SLA) involves several steps to ensure clarity, comprehensiveness, and alignment with business objectives. These documents are flexible and unique, where you can make necessary changes as and when needed.
Let’s look at a sample Social Media SLA that you can use as a template for creating your own SLAs:
1.0 Service Level Agreement
While forming the Social Media SLA, the first page of your document should include the following:
- Version details
- Document change history (last reviewed date and next scheduled review)
- Document approvals
The format will be:
2.0. Agreement Overview
This section will comprise four sections, including:
- SLA Introduction
This section will include a small brief of the agreement that is going to include the parties, service scope, and contract duration.
This is a Social media Service Level Agreement (SLA) between [Customer] and [Service Provider] and identifies and marks the required services and the expected level of services between MM/DD/YYYY to MM/DD/YYYY. This is subjected to review and renewal scheduled by MM/DD/YYYY, along with the signatures of the concerned parties.
- Definitions, Conventions, Acronyms, And Abbreviations
This section will include the definition and term description of words used to represent services, roles, metrics, scope, and parameters that may be interpreted subjectively in different contexts.
|Social Media SLA||Social Media Service Level Agreement|
This section defines the purpose of this agreement, which may need to specify requirements such as:
- Scope of service provisioned to [Customer].
- Agreed upon service targets.
- Agreed evaluation parameters after target fulfillment.
- Roles and responsibilities of both parties.
- Duration, scope, and renewal of the said contract.
- Additional supporting processes, limitations, exclusions, and deviations.
- Contractual Parameters
In this section, you’ll define the parameters of the Social media SLA, which will be related to policies, scope, renewal, modification, exclusion, limitations, and termination of the agreement.
This may be like
Contract renewal must be requested by [Customer] at least 30 days prior to the expiration date of this agreement.
[Customer] requires a minimum of 60 days’ notice for early termination of this Social Media SLA.
3.0. Service Agreement
This section will comprise a variety of components and subsections like the following:
- KPIs And Metrics
This subsection will include key performance indicators (KPIs) and other related metrics to support your Social Media SLA, like engagement, follower count, likes, comments, shares, retweets, the followers gained, etc, to monitor and determine whether the desired outcome for the customer has been achieved or not.
- Service Levels, Rankings, And Priority
This section will comprise the following severity issues and their responses:
|Severity Level||Description||Target Response|
|Monitor||Issues that need to be addressed, if not, can impact the future.||Within 24 hours|
- Service Response
This section will comprise the various services and responses to the same.
|Service||Description||SLA Target||Performance Metric|
|Monitoring social media engagement||Evaluating and keeping a tab on all the engagement metrics||98%||Engagement|
- Exceptions And Limitations
This section will outline the scope of the Social media SLA conditions and application, such as:
[Service Provider] must ensure [Service] availability of 99.% during the holiday season dated MM/DD/YYYY to MM/DD/YYYY.
- Responses And Responsibilities
In this section, you will find the roles and responsibilities of both parties involved in the agreement.
[Customer] should provide all necessary information and assistance related to the service to allow the [Service Provider] to meet the performance standards as outlined in this document.
[Service Provider] Responsibilities:
[Service Provider] must inform [Customer] if there are scheduled and unscheduled service restrictions, disruptions, or as otherwise necessary.
- Service Management
The service management section will include clauses where the customer can contact the service provider on a particular schedule.
Phone Support: 24 hours as per Section 3.2. of this agreement.
Besides this, other sections may include references, a glossary, pricing models, and charges.
PS: Remember, this is just an outline of a Social Media SLA template to give you an idea of how it's written and formed. While you can always make your own template depending on your business and client's requirements, you can always take reference from the one we have outlined in this blog.
When To Update The Social Media Service Level Agreement?
Before drafting your Social Media Service Level Agreement (SLA), know that it can be updated as and when required to ensure its relevance and effectiveness with your current working stakeholder client or department. As goals and team member visions can change, you have to update your SLA accordingly to ensure that your business reflects the current scope of work between an agency and a client.
Here are key instances when you should consider updating your Social Media SLA:
Change in Business Objectives or Strategies: For instance, after evaluating the annual performance of 2023, you want to make some changes to your business strategy or objectives to fetch better results, then you need to update the same in your Social Media SLA to ensure that it reflects the updated priorities and objectives of the company, avoiding further confusions.
Platform Updates and Algorithm Changes: For example, if you have upgraded any software or prefer to use a different platform or communication method, then it is crucial to update the same in the SLA with a proper update date to know which ones have been removed and which ones have been added.
Client Needs And KPIs Change: It might happen that your client needs have changed over time to keep up with the competitive market, for you had to make changes to your department to adhere to their expectations. In such a scenario, many things can change, including the agreement, the price, the responsibilities and commitments even the metrics you measure. You need to update the same in your SLA so that the agreement can be readjusted, abiding by all legalities.
Regulatory and Legal Updates: This is perhaps one of the most important reasons when your company undergoes any significant changes in regulations, legal requirements, or security compliances, you must update the same in the SLA to ensure compliance and check that the clauses are legally recognized and valid in your country.
Once you have done updating your SLA template, consult a lawyer and ask him to review and validate the same to check whether it's within the legal purview and enforceable within your country. After that is done, you can use this as your standard and editable template for future clients.
If you are reading this section by now, we hope you have a clear idea about Social Media SLA, how it's written, and the benefits and reasons for having one. Just remember that if you are starting out or creating your first Social Media SLA, it's important to be very thorough with the terms and conditions you mention in the same. For this, you should always validate and discuss the document with your customer/department/vendor and get the same reviewed by a corporate lawyer, ensuring that it reflects the business needs and customer expectations.