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May 27 2011
Social Media has become a very powerful tool in today’s business environment. Everyday there are more and more companies presenting themselves on different social media channels and letting their employees be active on the Internet and be a part of this online community. As with every action in business, the use of social media has its own risks. How do you prevent your company from making major mistakes on the Internet? What is appropriate for employees when they respond on behalf of your company? How do you control the time your employees spend on social media sites? These are relevant questions for any type of business whether it’s a small company that has just started leveraging digital space or a big corporation that has multiple social media accounts.
It’s time to think about establishing a social media policy that guides what your employees can and can’t do on social media websites. Here are 5 key elements to consider when crafting a social media policy.
Identify who can respond on behalf of your company in social media. It can be one person or a team of employees who will approve every online action. After all, social media are as important as any public interaction where you instantly represent the voice of your company. The same rules apply as if you allow somebody to speak on TV, the radio or tweet for your organization.
Be transparent about your expectations of employees conduct on social media. Explain what the general idea is behind your social media strategy and the corporate image that you are trying to achieve. It’s good from the beginning to set clear rules on what is appropriate to say online and what is not. It helps to keep everybody focused on their goals.
This might seem very obvious but it’s not going to hurt to mention in your social media policy about protecting company’s proprietary information. As well as never disclosing any private or confidential data about your company’s clients, sponsors or vendors.
What if your employees are using social media for personal reasons? The access to social media sites during work time should have its own purpose like connecting with clients and customers, reading and sharing industry news, following experts, etc. Share with your employees the limitations you want to apply to their personal use of social media. Making this clear in the beginning will save uncomfortable conversation down the road.
For better understanding of your social media policy it’s good to have separate guidelines for each social media channel that your company uses. It doesn’t need to be a very structured, with a detailed code of conduct for each website, but it’s important to specify the key ideas your employees need to know about interacting on each social media platform. Not sure where to start? There are lots of different examples of social media policies from companies like Zappos, Coca-Cola, Best Buy and others. Check them out and start to create your own Social Media Policy!
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