Social media is an integral part of a marketing plan, and is widely used by companies throughout the U.S. to promote their brands, connect with customers, and stay informed about industry trends.
Unfortunately, sometimes employees misuse social media networks by publishing harmful information that can seriously damage the image and reputation of a company. So how can you limit this from occurring in your organization? Easy – implement social media policies.
In 2014, social media policies are a necessity to companies. Such policies are used to establish the ground rules for employees to follow with regards to their online activities and your company’s operation. Great social media policies should incorporate the following:
1. Maintain Company Goals and Vision
Your social media policy should highlight your company’s goals and visions regarding the use of social media networks. It should clearly identify the role employees should maintain while using social media networks to promote your company to the public.
2. Set Clear Expectations
Make sure you set clear expectations and communicate to your employees how they are to conduct themselves on social media networks when publishing information about, or on behalf of, your company. Doing so will reduce the chance of an employee stating that they did not know about any company policies related to using social media networks to connect with the public.
3. Social Media Policy Training
Prior to any employee publishing content to social networks on behalf of your company, you should conduct a mandatory social media policy training. At the training, require your employees to sign off on a legally binding document that restricts them from publishing “unauthorized content” on your company’s social networks. I recommend you consult with a business attorney to ensure that your social media policies do not infringe on your employee’s First Amendment rights.
Policies that include confidentiality statements further protect companies from social media slander by holding employees more accountable for their actions. It is important to clearly define your social media guidelines because employees have the potential to hurt or help your company’s brand or image.
Strict policies should contain hardened guidelines for what information can and cannot be posted and who is allowed to post. You do not want to implement casual policies that encourage employees to contribute opinions and content to social media networks on behalf of your company. Policies, whether strict or more casual, provide common sense reminders that certain actions on social media networks may negatively impact the company. The marketing and branding image of a company can become ruined if there are no limitations to what employees post on social media networks.
The best policies fall in between strict and casual guidelines and should encompass the goals of the company while allowing employees to become true brand ambassadors. I highly recommend you consult with a business attorney who is familiar with social media networks and discuss which policies would best suit your company.