I’m going to talk to you about why your company needs a social media policy.
Regardless of what industry you are in or what business you are in you need to set up some clear, simple guidelines for your staff. They are going to be doing 2 things with your guidelines.
Firstly you are going to be alerting your staff to things that are acceptable and not acceptable to say. You will also be empowering your staff because you are going to tell them ‘look, these are great things to talk about and this is how you will go about it’. A lot of staff will be hesitant to use social media as they will be scared about their job and about getting in to trouble. These are things that you need to cover in your social media policy to make sure that your staff are covered and to make sure that they are empowered.
The first thing you need to do is talk about etiquette. Etiquette really is about things like tone of voice, it’s about how to deal with situations like when should you be promotional in your updates, when is it ok to ask questions and also it’s about misunderstandings. Can you say something that might get taken out of context because it will happen, we all make mistakes and there are ways to go back and apologise. There are disagreements that will happen and you can deal with those. So it’s important to set out how to deal with those.
There are also issues like confidentiality. You need to alert your staff to what can and can’t be said and talked about in public. There is also the fact that certain things will be updated from people’s personal profiles so for example, your LinkedIn profile is your own profile. So what can staff talk about and not talk about on LinkedIn profile?
There are also things like conflict of interest and you might be talking to clients or there might be situations where competitors are following you or communicating with you so what sort of information can you share with those people?
It’s also important to remind people not to forget their day job. You want to encourage people to go on social media but there has to be some common sense. You don’t want your staff to be on Facebook all day so again you need to make it clear to your staff that social media is ok but these are the boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable.
To summarise, when you are setting up a social media policy, remember that it is ultimately there not to restrict your staff, it is there to empower your staff as you are telling them what is or isn’t acceptable.
Think about etiquette, think about conflict of interests, think about confidentiality and most importantly give your staff some encouragement to use. To make things really easy for you, you don’t even have to start from scratch. There are many great companies out there who already have great policies which you can borrow from. For example there is IBM, Nordstrom, US Air force and the British Council. For more information about those companies and to find out about those policies, why don’t you follow my blog?