Employees are brand advocates of an organization. They are the voice of your company, delivering the brand promise to your customers. With the advent of social media, your employees are engaging in online conversations a lot more in ways that can hugely impact your Business. Willfully or otherwise, your employees may be divulging confidential information. You may have a PR department and an official spokesperson, but you have very little control on what is being shared by your employees on their personal facebook pages, twitter accounts, or blogs. We often hear instances of employees being fired because of inappropriate online behavior that’s damaging to the company. The key is to steer correct online engagement behavior by defining a social media policy for your organization.
The crucial questions for any organization are:
How do you define a social media policy that protects and enhances your company’s image?
How do you empower employees to promote your brand in a positive way?
Do you have trained experts in social media who can engage employees on what to say in social media circles on an ongoing basis?
The primary focus of a social media policy would obviously be to protect your company’s confidential information. A best practice adopted by most innovative companies is to empower employees and trust them to be your brand advocates.
Here are three key elements of a Corporate Social Media policy
Defining the social media policy
Most Corporate policies are written as a legal document but when it comes to social media, most companies are adopting a conversational tone to communicate key messages of the policy. It is important to seek your legal team’s input, but steer clear from using typical legal language if you want your employees to fully understand the policy. The social media landscape is huge and it changes every day. You can only have general guidelines listed around social media usage. The best way to do that would be including examples of what is preferred and accepted and what is not, thus eliminating ambiguity. If you have a stringent policy, it may discourage your employees from participating. The key is to have a subtle balance such that employees feel empowered yet responsible when they act as brand advocates in social media circles.
Dell does a brilliant job of inculcating a social media culture in the organization. They have fairly simple yet effective social media policy. You can refer to the information here.
Personal versus professional persona
Gartner’s social media policy states, “You may adopt the persona of a Gartner associate or a personal persona unconnected to your professional work life. It is important for associates to recognize the difference, and to be careful when crossing from one persona to the other in any particular social environment.”
Encourage your employees to participate across your company’s social media platforms. Employees need to identify themselves as your company’s representatives when they do so. Educate them not to share private company information on their profiles or anywhere on the web. Stating examples of what kind of discussions employees can participate in can eliminate ambiguity. While employees may maintain personal social media accounts, it is important to provide them with a general guideline on what kind of company information can be shared on their personal profiles as well. For example, it is okay to share product announcements or news of a new branch opening. Make it clear that the company reserves the right to track any company-related information that is shared by the employees anywhere on the web.
Encourage employees to be authentic, respectful, and open
Social media provides a great opportunity for your company to interact with your customers. Through your social media interactions, customers get an insider view of your organization. Social media success lies in being seen as an authentic brand. Encourage employees to be authentic on social media. List some instances of great customer service etiquette. Ask them to use respectful language while letting the conversation be transparent and open.
Why corporate social media training programs are important?
While you may do everything to build a great social media culture in the organization, periodic review and continuous improvement is key for its success. Identify team members from each function who can be trained and designated as social media experts and encourage employees to approach them in instances of doubt.
Internal policies define and shape the culture of an organization. Most organizations strive to inculcate a culture of innovation and creativity. Social Media complements these objectives as it offers valuable tools for sharing ideas and information. In order for this to happen, companies need to have trained social media evangelists who serve as subject matter experts. Social media is a specialized field. Social media tools might be intuitive but social media strategy and execution needs commitment and focused effort. This is where social media training plays a crucial role.
Remember this equation:
Social Media Success = Corporate Social Media Policy + Ongoing Training