To make sure that your brand is represented in the best light online, it’s important to create a policy that clearly outlines for your employees the appropriate and inappropriate uses of social media. It should emphasize the importance of protecting your organization’s values, integrity and reputation.
Before you begin, what constitutes social media for your organization? Think about it. Although a blog or LinkedIn may seem obvious, what about online video and Twitter? Have your own written definition of what social media is, especially since new tools and websites are always coming onto the marketplace. One example could be:
“Social media is any medium, including video, or website that provides for open communication with the public.”
Why would you want to set social media guidelines and policies for your employees? Because they…
- Protect your brand’s reputation;
- Set standards for employee use;
- Create brand consistency across your social media channels.
When creating your social media policy for your employees, these are the five main components you need to cover:
- How your employees are welcome to use social media;
- What kind of social media use is discouraged;
- The process they should follow when they’e unsure of what’s appropriate;
- The consequences for social media misuse;
First and most importantly, when deciding which behavior you want to encourage, remember that you can’t force your employees to use their personal profiles to amplify your brand. However, you can empower them to engage with your brand and make it as easy as possible for them to do so, if they choose. For example, you can invite them to like and share your content, especially if it’s something that resonates well with them personally.
You can also empower employees to jump in and answer customer questions in a helpful, friendly manner. Make them your brand ambassadors. When doing this, make sure you have guidelines in place that outlines what they should do with negative situations, too. Whether it’s a customer complaint or an inappropriate image posted on social, you don’t want these things to be ignored or get out of control.
Determine what type of content is acceptable for your employees to share. For example, invite them to share photos of the products you sell or announce that special sales event you’re running for the week.
Even though your employees may already be exercising good common sense online, you’ll want to address specific examples of topics that are off limits. Discourage them from sharing sensitive, confidential, proprietary, non-released company information. Personal and private information about work, co-workers, and customers must never appear online. Ask your employees not to engage in hostile commentary and avoid negative comments about your competitors.
Keep in mind that your employees’ profiles are an extension of your brand. Their social media image does matter. It’s public. If an employee’s social media profile mentions your organization, request that it’s professional and not include any offensive content. Nastiness, disparaging comments, untruthful statements, demeaning behavior, and illegal substance use are all examples of behavior your social media policy must address.
What’s the Process?
Clearly state in your policy who to contact when an employee has a question about how your policy applies to them or when they have a question about sharing something on social media. You also want to state how to report inappropriate activity. For a thorough understanding, include examples of what is appropriate behavior and what is not.
The policy should outline the implications for not abiding by your social media guidelines, such as verbal or written warnings. Create a system for monitoring your social media sphere, too. Simply having a social media policy in place doesn’t serve anyone any good unless you’re actively monitoring where the conversations are taking place. There are plenty of free and paid tools available to help you with this.
Your employees are already interacting on social media. Your company should be interacting there, too. And you want your employees to use social networking tools properly for the good of all.
Have a training program in place for those employees who want to participate with you. Training is a winning situation for both your company and employees. They’re open to learning, even about how to better leverage social media to further their own careers. And when mistakes happen, a lot of times it’s just because someone doesn’t know any better. With a solid training program in place, it’s not just a reflection of your brand, it’s a reflection of your employees as well.
Is there something you’d like to add to this article? Do you have a policy that you’d like to share? Leave it in the comment section below. Thanks!
Wishing you much success…