As social media continues to become an integral part of our lives, at work and at home, how do we define where to draw the line? Especially at work, it can get confusing for your employees to know what's expected of them. Read on to learn how you can create a simple social media policy for your workforce, with examples from other top brands to help inspire you.
Steps to providing your team or your entire building with a clear social policy:
Defining Your Company's Social Policy
There are a few ways you can approach how you want to define your policy. There's the strict approach, the common sense approach and one balanced between the two. It truly depends on your company and what industry you're in.
#1 The Strict Policy
- employees often must state disclaimers separating themselves from their company
- their workers are not able to ever communicate as customer service unless granted permission
- employees cannot share logos of the company
- social media is not allowed or tolerated in the workplace at all
#2 The Common Sense Policy
- users should be respectful and courteous
- employees are expected to be honest about who they are
- workers can't publish any confidential company information
- expected to respect the privacy of other coworkers and clients
#3 The Balanced Policy
- allowed to promote company events and integrate the company respectfully
- avoid controversial topics to steer clear of bad press and labeling
- encouraged to interact with marketing online
- allowed to state what company they work for and talk about the company, within reason
Whichever path you decide to take, be sure to align it clearly with your company or office's overall goals to avoid confusion.
Communicate Your Expectations Clearly
Your entire goal in defining your rules is to have them followed, right? Be specific as to what you expect, provide examples and alternative solutions to situations so there is never any confusion. Remember, one bad post can ruin a company's reputation much quicker than many good posts can save it.
It's important to weight the pros and cons of what to include in your policy. If you want your brand to seem more personable, a more lenient policy is likely going to be beneficial. However, this can also cause issues because not every employee's opinion of "appropriate" is on the same level as another. Don't let the fear of that keep you from writing a fair policy! Companies who completely rule against social media or control it too much are will be letting go of all the positive benefits social can have on a business, and its employees. Talk with your marketing team or management to get their input.
Distributing Your Social Policy
This is a key step - you can't expect your employees to follow your rules if they don't know what they are!
- First, be sure to include a copy of your policy in all new hires' welcome packets. Point the document out, and let them know where they can address any questions, because there will be questions.
- As social media is still relatively new in the business world, expect a few raised hands as this new policy goes into effect.
- It might be best to hold a meeting to introduce the new policy to your team, and maybe others within your building through their departments. Be clear that this is an open forum for people to voice questions and concerns to avoid problems down the road.
Examples of Various Corporations' Policies
How you choose to restrict or allow social media depends on the type of building you run, and what your organization does. There are many approaches that companies have taken in the past. Take a look at HubSpot's article here and use tactics from some the companies they highlighted when drafting your own.
Best Buy's policy puts the focus on not sharing pubic information and addressing privacy concerns. They also tackle the topic of branding and separating the employee's messages from the company's image. The company wants employees to state the opinions in their posts are theirs and theirs alone, and have no affiliation with the store.
Oracle being a software company has taken a stricter approach, one where they limit the use of social media because of "hindering productivity". I think theirs is a bit strict, however if you work in a law firm or a building where security is highly regarded, taking a limited approach may be a good option for you.
Ford's written policy allows their employees quite a bit of freedom. They respect workers' need to communicate, and ask for them to use common sense when making decisions as to what to post. This could be a good starting point for smaller firms or buildings that want employees to share information going on at their company, but in a respectful, appropriate way.
In today's virtual working world, social media will inevitably come up. It's critical to define what your company expects early on, so you can benefit from the positive aspects of the medium rather than try to fight against them.
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