What Should Be My Employee Policy for Social Media?
We’ve all seen a news article about someone who lost their job after they tweeted something. Or a company that went into PR mode after something that was said by a staff member was attributed to its brand. Businesses everywhere struggle between having their employees act as brand ambassadors and the outcry that comes with policies silencing personal social media profiles. Let’s look at problems and solutions when it comes to employee policy for social media.
How Social Media Has Changed Public Relations
Whether you love or hate social media, it’s important to accept how it has transformed community communication. Not only are your current and potential customers on it, but also your industry and competitors and – as many businesses forget – your employees. This creates two major issues:
An Employee’s Online Presence is Also Your Own
Building your company’s online presence is vital to your success, but so is controlling it. Claiming your Google Business page and online review platforms is a simple first step, but it isn’t the only place people will learn about your business. If your employees are vocal on social media, especially about your industry, they become another way people find out about your business.
The Higher Your Success, the Higher the Stakes
As your business becomes successful, this success makes social media management all the more important. It also has the secondary effect of enhancing individuals, both in your c-suite and below, that have helped make your business successful on social media platforms. If you ignore this, you might find they are becoming brand ambassadors or even the face of your company on that platform.
What You’re Looking to Avoid with a Social Media Policy
When you start discussions about a policy, you’re going to have pushback from individuals, especially if one or both of the above issues are already in play. It’s important that you discuss all the potential situations with your team so everyone is on the same page. Here are the most common for small and medium businesses:
- People are uncertain if the statements made by employees are official or not.
- Employees disclose internal/sensitive information about the company.
- Incendiary messaging or statements made by staff that go against your brand or code of ethics.
The Building Blocks of a Great Employee Policy for Social Media
Like any policy for the company, your goal when crafting it should be simplicity. You can go into as much depth as you want, but the core concepts should be easy to remember. Looking at policies from some of the big names like Intel and Ford, here are the four pillars to any good social media policy:
- Disclose Your Relationship: Many staff like to promote their work or stuff about your company on their personal accounts. Have them disclose that they work for you (you can even have a hashtag for the occasion).
- Opinions are Your Own: Some companies like for staff to include an “All opinions are my own” mention in their profile. While this disclaimer is starting to fall out of favor, the sentiment is not. Have employees keep this in mind when posting.
- Know What You Can Say: It’s important that employees know what information is internal, experience, or not released for public consumption yet. Make sure employees are clear on this, make it clear in documents, and that they have someone they can ask if unsure.
- Don’t Be a Jerk: The vast majority of issues arise when tempers flair online. Stress to employees to use common sense, play nice, and that the internet is a public space (that doesn’t forget). Part of this is also knowing when the staff needs to notify the company to issue a statement.
We live in a world where people represent the companies they work for. This can sometimes be leveraged into free PR (see our blog, Branding Your Company’s Leadership on Social Media, for details), but can also lead to reputation management nightmares. It’s important to not stifle your employees’ voices, but also not open yourself to brand damage that could result in having to remove the employee.
While it’s up to you to strike that balance, Vision Advertising can help. We work with our clients to not only manage their brands on social media but to teach them how to improve themselves online. Contact us to learn more.