A Social Media Policy for Your Employees, a Do or Don’t?

  • Date: 15 September 2017
  • reading time: 4 Minutes
  • Blogger: Gurby Bulo

Communication is everything! Your social media presence is one of the most vital components of your marketing toolbox. Why do companies complain about how, how often and what their employees post on social media on their behalf? Simply because there is no social media policy. Perhaps a "social media policy" sounds a little bit overdone… but I'm 100 percent sure that you will help an employee (and yourself), to involve social media in the growth of your organization through clear guidelines. That improves customer interaction and the reputation of your company, business-unit, institution, department or brand. 

Your social media policy should be transparent and structured. When making a policy, remember a few important things:

Many people have a habit of sharing every aspect of their lives on social media. You can’t assume employees know what you consider “sensitive information.” Therefor your policy needs to clarify what business-related information employees shouldn’t share on social media. Your policy needs to prohibit posts that put your business or staff at risk. Explain how or why certain information creates a risk because someone can easily abuse it or put the safety of your staff at risk. 

Also, there may need clear guidelines about sharing information with the public. Of course we will want to promote products in development. However, you don’t want to share the details too soon. Your social media policy can clarify whether it’s okay to post about new products still in development.
Online, people often talk about how they do business to demonstrate their expertise. However, details about tools, work methods, software, prices or other valuable information isn’t appropriate. You don’t want to share this valuable information with your competitors or other interested parties. Your social media policy has to be clear about these guidelines as well.

Whether you choose for a more strict social media policy or a more relaxed one, depends on your business and your knowledge of your employees. Clearly decide who can or can’t speak on social media on behalf of the organization.

To prevent misunderstandings, an official social media team is appointed on behalf of a company, business unit, institution, department or brand, who speak social media on their behalf. Not everyone has such a strict policy. A more relaxed policy can still protect your business. For example, driven employees with customer service experience are very well able to help customers solve their problems.

If you want to allow a discussion environment, make sure the staff are well trained to communicate with customers in a consistent way that guarantees the company's standards. You can train employees to provide detailed, accurate responses to customer questions. When you want to maintain a strict business presence on social media, assign and train a specific members  accordingly social media interaction.

There’s a lot going on on social media, positive things and negative. Prepare you organization, business unit, institution, department of brand in all the possible situations that may occur on social media, such as unhappy customers, copyright infringement, conflicts or difficult questions. Then decide how you want your employees to react on each situation. 

For instance conflicts can escalate quickly. You have to be specific to your employees about how you want them to respond. Conflicts are handled properly from the start. Not defending, that may end up in a discussion. Keep the communication open and positive and try to get in touch personaly. With this approach, you improve your ability to resolve the issue instead of doing extensive damage control. When you decide that only the official social media team handle conflicts, explain what employees should do instead and what they are allowed to say.

You need to set rules as well about the personal accounts of your employees. for your employees to follow on their personal accounts as well. It shouldn’t matter what someone does in their personal life. But unfortunately your employees will always be a reflection on you and your brand. 

A plan only works if there is support from the beginning and the policy is monitored for compliance. When setting up such a plan, it is advisable to involve the Marketing and Sales department in its creation. Explain about a social media policy and why it’s being implemented. Let them be a part of this policy, their input is an important part of this process. Ultimately they are the ones who are most in contact with your customer. And remember one thing, a policy only works if everyone feels responsible and sends out of management. Feedback to employees about good and incorrect use of policy policy ensures quick implementation.

As said, your social media presence is a vital components of your marketing toolbox. By using a transparent policy, the interaction with customers and reputation of your compagny, business-unit, institution, department or brand will definitely improve!

Join our community and talk to other organizations about their experiences with social media policies.

  • Blogger: Gurby Bulo
  • E-mail: [email protected]
  • Online Marketing Strategy Expert at Social Media Gids
  • Internet entrepreneur Gurby Bulo is the Founder of Social Media Gids and host of @SMG Hangout. With his virtual team, they follow the latest online marketing developments because they like it ;-) and to provide you with information, strategies and support necessary to increase your online marketing knowledge, sales and growth on your way to (financial) freedom.
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