Why Your Business Needs a social media policy
Author Natalie Weaving
Social media is now a fundamental business development tool with multiple people within a business using it. This is why having social media is no longer a ‘nice to have’ it is now a ‘must have’ if you want to limit any unnecessary risk.
As we all know social media is a fantastic way to allow your customers, clients, and suppliers direct access to you. Most businesses are now taking advantage of these outlets, and they’re doing it well. However, there are a proportion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are not able to dedicate the time or resources to the upkeep of these accounts and need to expand the accessibility within the immediate company. And a social media policy should be on hand to support those that are ‘chosen’.
But why does a business need a social media policy?
It will come as no surprise that someone in the company will be able to support your social media efforts. As statistics show, social media is the most common activity that people carry out on the internet, having overtaken porn in 2014. With Facebook having a community that is larger than the population of China, there is a lot of people that your company can be engaging with. This means the chosen one (or team) will have to have skills to not only administer updates but build an engaging community and track what activities get results. Our blog on the many roles of a social media manager covers other attributes you will need to consider.
Some of these activities include engaging with the companies content. And so the line between personal and professional that needs to be determined so that your company image is not compromised, even in the early days! You can’t make people engage with your business, but it becoming a natural activity that employees do. A social media policy will ensure that you lay down the boundaries and keep your employee’s privacy and your brand’s reputation safe.
The main aims of a social media policy.
One of the key aims of a social media policy is to outline what is and is not acceptable regarding usage, updates and information being shared through personal and professional channels. This will vary from business to business based on the industry you are in, but having a basic outline of what to include can help to develop more in-depth guidelines.
How to write a social media policy.
1.Keep it simple & be clear:
As a general rule, common sense should prevail when talking about work via personal accounts on public social networks. Mentioning a promotion at work or a busy day visiting clients may present the company in a positive light but what if an employee has had a bad day? Where does one draw the line? Naturally, it’s the negative comments you want to avoid being used and shared with the world, so make employees aware of what is and is not acceptable and the consequences of any negative or potentially slanderous comments.
Always give your employees a chance to work this out themselves before you bombard them with rules and regulations. You don’t want to run the risk of treating them like children and instilling a fear of social media. One suggestion is to write something into their contract of employment or to sign an agreement that they understand the consequences of the company being portrayed in a negative light regardless of the medium.
2. Be supportive
Whether you are writing guidelines for your social media team, or to nurture employee advocates, having some supportive content along with the don’ts is a great way to encourage the right type of activity. These could include:
- Social media etiquette
- How many updates you require or would like your employees to try and do per week
- Topics to avoid, but also topics to look out for along with a safe list of publications people can view
- Business news you are happy to share and types of information that should remain private
- A reminder of keeping personal opinions to themselves but encourage them to become a thought leader in their field
- Rules on how to respond to different types of comments and their process should they spot negativity online.
- The appropriate amount of time expected to be spent on social media
- The aim’s and goals of using social media to promote the company
This should be enough to give them safe perimeters to work within. It can be as detailed as you need it to be.
3. Don’t cheat
In the policy, you need to have a part on Copyright and “stealing” third party content and passing it off as your own. This can include individuals trying to pass off companies content as their own.
Similarly, don’t ask staff to advocate your services or products under the guise of a company outsider. By all means, ask them to share your updates and even ‘like’, but not to make “fake” comments. Your followers will make real ones in time.
Nothing is forever…is it?
Once an update is posted or tweeted it’s in the public domain. By having a clear social media policy hopefully, only the odd typo will go out before being retracted. The general rule is “if in doubt, don’t”. Regardless of deleting or editing, your updates will remain in the public domain forever. Even ones you think have been deleted can be found on someone else’s timeline until they refresh which, by that time, they might have already been shared, screenshotted or other. You have been warned.
These points should give you some basis to start your social media policy. As said before, depending on your business you can make it as simple or as detailed as you need to, and stress the reasons why you are implementing this to your employees will get them on board. Make them feel like a crucial piece of a puzzle; they are your biggest advocates, your eyes and your ears.
Still not sure whether your business needs a social media policy? Or how to nurture internal brand advocates without scaring them off?
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