Cover Your Six With a Social Media Policy

BLOG POST BY SARAH MALCOLM, CHIEF DIGITAL STRATEGIST AT THE NEWS FUNNEL

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Not everyone in your company handles the content marketing, so why do their online social activities matter? All brands need to care. The impression employees impart online is part of brand-building. Besides that, there could situations where an atypical employee ends up running point on social media. Think of an employee attending a special event prime for social posts, or an emergency situation where the social media person is unable to fulfill their duties. Lay out all social expectations, business and personal, before problems surface with a social media policy.

What goes into a business social media policy

Make clear who can represent the company on social media. If there is a designed social media employee or team, they are the obvious voice of the brand. Define if other employees, like IT workers or sales people, can respond to customer service queries or complaints. If not, make sure the employees know how to direct any social chatter about your brand that might be directed their way on personal accounts.

How should the responses sound? Across the team, the brand voice must be consistent. Will you be upbeat and friendly? Is the brand passionate about a particular topic? Instead, will content be all business by sticking with data and stats? Provide some example responses and monitor for consistency.

Guidelines for personal social conduct

The truth is, the lines between work and play are more blurred than ever. An employee may think their personal Twitter feed or Instagram are off-limits, but if the profile mentions the brand at all, what they put online could affect the company. A clear social conduct policy outlines the behavior unacceptable to the brand values, such as politically charged statements, offensive language, illegal behavior, et al.

Clarify what business details do not belong in a public sphere. It’s great if an employee shares a new product launch with their network, as long as it’s not too soon. Social posts risk jeopardizing intellectual property, new updates, or company safety.

Please note that there are laws governing how much influence companies can exert over their employee’s social media accounts. While companies may ask, it’s not recommended brands force employees to promote anything on their personal networks, especially as it may violate the Federal Trade Commission laws on advertising. Legislation on what companies can and can’t ask employees to do in regard to social media vary by state.

Protect your brand’s reputation with a clear social media policy. Provide all new employees with a copy of the policy as part of their orientation, while any updates should be announced to all employees.