Your staff is participating in social media as individuals. And that’s a mixed bag. Employees can hurt or champion your brand. While an organization can not ban staff from participating on social networking or ask for employees’ passwords, an organization can provide a framework for employees.
So what can an organization do?
It is important to assist staff in their social media efforts by developing “rules of engagement,” or suggested ways for every employee to communicate on social media, regardless of whether it is for personal use or as a representative of the organization. Employees need to understand the appropriate use of social media, and an organization therefore needs to develop guidelines for them. There are a few resources out there to assist with developing such guidelines. There are free services that can help you draft customized social media policies.
When developing these guidelines, it is important to include social media–savvy staff in drafting the guidelines and policies. They can help you navigate the social media culture. And they champion the guidelines to other staff. Also, it is helpful to have legal and other departments involved in the process from the beginning.
Many companies are now including social media in their communications and professional conduct policies. The policy doesn’t have to be complex and filled with legalese. Make it so it is simple, concise, and understandable. Make the guidelines clear as to what it covers and how it fits into the organization’s culture. Basically why staff should care about these guidelines and policies.
Social Media Guidelines should ask staff to:
• Be professional— Regardless of the medium or forum, they represent the company and should act accordingly. When in doubt, keep silent.
• Be clear— When speaking in a public setting (whether online or offline), make sure they understand when and if they are acting on behalf of the company.
• Be mindful— People can misinterpret words. Public sentiment can go against a brand at any time, and it can escalate quickly.
While you can’t ban staff from social media, you can guide them with a well-thoughtout social media policy.
Download a social media policy tip sheet.
Looking for more information:
7 Essentials of a Social Media Policy That’s Actually Useful
Social Media Policy: When Are Your Own Opinions Not Okay?
How to Create Effective Social Media Guidelines
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