Do you have a staff social media policy for your business? If you haven’t created one yet, you should. Social media policies let your staff know what you expect from them in their personal social media use. If you’re just in the process of creating your social media policy, see below for four components to include.
1) Understand Your Role
Why did you adopt social media as a company? Make your goals clear in your social media policy including how you want your audience to perceive your brand, then let your staff know how they can help you achieve your goals. In some companies that may include staff tweeting from the company account, and in other companies that may be asking staff not to identify themselves as an employee of the company on their personal social media accounts to avoid appearing like a spokesperson.
Outline clear guidelines for staff regarding commenting on industry blog posts and news articles. Help them understand the difference between their personal opinions and when they will be perceived as representing the company.
2) Protect Company Secrets
In the age of social media, it is easy for staff to feel they are sharing a fact with a close group of friends when in fact they are posting it publically for anyone to see. Remind staff of the type of company information it is ok to share via social media and the type that isn’t. If they are in doubt about whether a fact is confidential or not, ask them to check with their supervisor or your social media manager before they share. This is the section to also explain the consequences of sharing confidential information via social media which could include job loss or even a lawsuit.
3) Own What you Write
Fun, interesting and authentic social media activity from your staff can have a positive impact on your business. In the same way negative, aggressive or rude activity can have a negative impact. Make it clear to your staff that they will be held responsible for what they post on social media sites. Explain that negative posts about customers, coworkers, industry partners or management are not acceptable. In the same way, it is up to you as a company to recognize that authenticity in social media sometimes requires negativity. Keep away from placing too many restrictions on your staff’s personal social media use, while making clear the areas that are off limits.
4) Outline Social Media Use at Work
There are many attitudes about staff using social media at work. Some companies block social media sites entirely; some encourage their use. You will have to find the balance the works right for you and then explain that balance to your staff. Explain which sites are appropriate for staff to visit during work hours and which ones aren’t. Try to keep this section positive. Remind staff that it is up to them to be productive during the work day and that excessive time using social media can cut into their productive time and hurt their job performance and the company overall.
A social media policy isn’t intended to set you up as the social media police ready to dole out punishment if your employees step out of line. When you present your policy use the opportunity to have a frank discussion on how employees’ actions can impact the company. Social media policies are a relief to many employees who are confused about their role as a company advocate online and are unsure how best to identify themselves when interacting with others.