Why Your Company Should Draft a Social Media Policy
Try going through your Twitter or Facebook feeds. You can probably find two types of status messages being posted by people that you know: 1. “I love my job because I work for a great company.” 2. “ I hate my job and I work for a terrible employer.” Believe it or not, both scenarios could have harmful effects to your company. Yes. BOTH.
The second scenario seems to pose the most immediate danger. Valid or not, when an employee says negative things about the company he or she is working for, it immediately causes some form of harm to your company’s image. Especially when that employee’s status message or tweet manages to illicit feedback from friends and co-workers. What started as a post that was visible only to those within that employee’s own network will then become visible to the networks of everyone who comments or replies to that post or tweet.
However, the first scenario, even when done with the most benign of intentions, could still cause some harm to your company. Picture this. Your employee posts “I love my job because I work for a great company”. Then a friend of his goes “Glad you’re enjoying your new job.”. Then, your employee then says “Thanks, Friend. Yes, it was recently announced at our meeting this morning that because we exceeded our target of $14 million for this quarter, I got a raise, and we’ll be upgrading our facilities and expanding our reach to three additional areas.”
Do you see how that post made a complete turn for the worse in a matter of only two replies? Having your employee state that because you exceeded your targets he’ll get a raise is okay, but having your employee accidentally reveal confidential company information is obviously not.
That is why in this day and age, it is not only practical, but imperative that your company drafts an employee policy about social media.In fact, you should have two: one for employees using social media for their job and one for employees using social media in their personal lives.
The first policy should cover aspects of your company’s social media marketing initiatives: establishing the team and the individual roles and responsibilities, the overall strategy and schedule, visual and verbal branding guidelines.
The second should be handled by Human Resources, and covers employees and their use of social media in their personal lives, and what they can and cannot say about your company on their personal site.
As early as the hiring process, human resources needs to be upfront with potential employees that your company reserves the right to monitor employee use of social media regardless of location, whether at work or at home. Reinforce to new and current employees that negative remarks about your company online can lead to consequences. Client information, trade secrets, and even trips or employee locations might also need to be kept confidential.
A positive way to present this policy is by developing a “brand induction” seminar or session. These talks should be positive and far from threatening. During these events, provide positive reinforcement and guidelines and remind all employees that they are all brand ambassadors, carrying your company’s reputation with them at all times.