10 Tips on How to Handle Social Media Policies

Social media is not just for large companies and can be used  by companies of all sizes to create on-line presence, monitor brands, and improve customer service.  Small companies have found success leveraging Twitter and blogs and others have grown exponentially based on well crafted or viral YouTube videos.

Organizations are also using social media to improve employee engagement, locate hard to find candidates, improve communications, promote virtual work and remove geographic barriers.  There are benefits to having employees participate in social media, but to maximize success and avoid embarassing employee actions, business leaders need to:

1.      Recognize and reinforce the positive role  employees  play in shaping a company’s on-line brand.  They can serve as brand ambassadors, promote core values and new products.

2.      Communicate to employees what is expected and how they should engage in social media.
If employees are not aware of what the company brand stands for, they might inadvertently hurt the brand or alienate current and future customers.

3.      Understand how social media can be misused by employees and develop the appropriate social media guidelines and policies.

4.      Train employees and managers on what the  guidelines mean and the specific actions they should take or not take.

5.      Implement and monitor.  Reward those who comply and punish those that don’t.

If you are writing a policy remember:

6.      If a social media user is not an official company spokesperson they should add a disclaimer and state that the opinions and positions expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of their company.

7.      Social media users need to respect their audience and not use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the workplace.

8.      Guidelines need to address sticky issues such as whether  managers should be allowed to friend their employees and vice versa.

9.      Guidelines should be specific, policies that are too broad can be misinterpreted

10.   Protect your company and brand.  Ensure employees do not disparage employers in public.

What are your  concerns about having employees engage in social media and how have you addressed this?  Please share your comments on Twitter @dccTips or Facebook at dccUpdate.

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