There is no getting away from social media nowadays. While it is an excellent platform for businesses from every industry to build brand awareness, communicate with their customers and clients, and build relationships, it can also spell disaster for your business if it is not managed correctly with an effective social media policy.
This is something a lot of companies have learned the hard way. Take, for example, when LG tried to mock Apple by tweeting that their smartphones don’t bend – only trouble is they sent the tweet from an iPhone.
Or, what about when Transport for London (TFL) infuriated customers on Twitter by suggesting a man leave early for work if he wanted to stop being late?
Or, when US Airways accidentally included a link to a pornographic image when tweeting a customer? There’s then the time Vodafone gave itself a PR headache after an obscene, homophobic tweet was sent by an employee from its official account. Or, there is the time when Bing caused outrage by using the Japanese earthquake to promote its account.
Need we go on?
Social media now wields a huge power and because of this, it is essential that every business creates a social media policy to control the usage of social media relating to work purposes and employee usage.
Why do you need a social media policy?
By creating a social media policy document to hand out to all employees, you are setting out a list of rules that all must abide. This helps to clear up any uncertainty or misunderstandings to ensure that no employee misuses social media while under your employment. Your social media policy should include whether or not you are going to allow the use of any social media while your employees are at work. If so, you will need to outline what type of activity is permitted, as well as what type of activity is discouraged.
Your social media policy should also outline what is and is not acceptable when referring to your business online. A negative post or comment by one of your employees can cause much more damage than a post from a customer. This is because the public will recognize that the employee works for you, and so any damaging remarks made will have much more of a negative impact. When producing your social media policy document, you should ask that your employees refrain from posting negative remarks about the company and colleagues online while under your employment.
It is more important than you think
Whatever your experiences or opinions are of social media, the truth is that it is a powerful platform. Social media has the power to shape users opinions and feelings towards a subject or a brand. Negative ideas and opinion spread like wildfire, turning public opinion against a person or company whether or not the original idea or statement was even the truth. One single misjudged post by an employee who has had a bad day can have a huge negative impact on how the public perceives your brand. Consumers are often a fickle bunch and with the ability of just one tweet or post to go viral and been seen by millions of users, it is essential that your employees have a solid idea of what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to social media usage.
What should your social media policy include?
Your social media policy needs to be clear and concise so that there is no misunderstanding. Make sure to include the following vital points in your social media policy document.
- Emphasize that your policy refers to all social media platforms, including ones that may arise in the future.
- Make it clear that your policy in no way refers to your employees’ personal use of social media when outside of working hours as long as they are not making reference to your company.
- Outline your stance on accessing social media sites when in work, whether or not you are going to allow this.
- Outline the acceptable use of company Internet and unacceptable use.
- If you are going to block access to certain sites from work computers, then this should be mentioned in your policy.
- State that all employees must clearly identify themselves as an employee and include a disclaimer when commenting on any aspect of the company’s business. The disclaimer can be something like “these views are mine, and mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of ‘company name’”.
- Ask employees to be mindful of what they post and use good judgement. It should state your employees are not to be disrespectful or falsely represent the company in any way.
- Make it clear in your policy that under no circumstances should any private or confidential information be posted on social media.
- State that you reserve the right to request to remove inappropriate posts and comments.
- Your policy should also clearly outline the consequences for employees who violate the policy. This includes any disciplinary action that may be brought against an employee who fails to stick to your social media policy.
Of course, this is a lot to put down on paper, so if you’re short on time and want the job done right away, why not sign up with your email address and receive a great social media policy template direct to your inbox.
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