Why Your Company Needs a Social Media Policy
Whether you’re using social marketing or not, chances are your employees are active on social media platforms. Here’s why you need to create a social media policy.
- A social media policy is your business code of conduct, letting people in your organization know how to act on social media.
- Responses to negative comments should be met with patience, respect, and reflect the tone of the brand.
- Employees’ activity on social platforms promotes your business, driving brand awareness and increasing customer loyalty.
Social media can be a powerful tool that helps B2B companies connect with audiences and turn leads into customers. And most platforms give you the ability to track and analyze your performance, increasing your chance of success.
But social media can also have a reverse effect. When used carelessly, it can ruin your brand image, change the public perception of your business, and even lose you customers. Even if your business is not active on social networks, there’s a good chance your employees, and even vendors associated with your brand, are. One misstep by any of these people can have a negative impact on your bottom line.
This is why it’s more important than ever to have a documented social policy that your employees understand and adhere to.
What is a social media policy?
A social media policy is your business code of conduct, letting people in your organization know how to act on social media. It should be a dynamic document that provides guidelines that are easy to use and cover all aspects of social media — including your business and employees’ social pages (personal and professional).
Benefits of a social media policy
Has your company suffered from a social media crisis? Or have one of your employees posted images that don’t match your brand’s image? There are lots of reasons to have a documented social media policy, including:
- Maintaining your brand identity across social platforms
- Quickly responding to a social media crisis
- Straight-forward approach to employees’ personal social profiles
- Encouraging brand ambassadors among employees
4 tips to include in your social media policy
Having a document that outlines your expectations when it comes to social platforms takes the guesswork out of what’s appropriate (and what’s not) for your employees. Your policy should include:
1. Defined roles
Here are Fronetics, we have profiles on several social sites. It’s important to define who takes ownership of each of those accounts and how often they are expected to monitor them. Some companies check social networks daily, others on an as-needed basis.
Comments? Questions? Each engagement with your brand should be responded to in a timely manner. A documented social media policy helps define all these details, including posting frequency, advertising, social listening, and even analytics around how your social channels are performing.
2. Responses to PR issues
When small issues arise on social media — for example, a negative comment or poor customer experience — they can quickly escalate if not handled promptly and effectively. The most important part of responding to these types of situations is to remember that employees are representing their brand first and foremost. Responses to negative comments or unhappy customers should always be met with patience, respect, and reflect the tone of the brand.
An effective way to deal with PR issues and to ensure responses align with your corporate brand is to create a ‘cheat sheet’ of responses to frequent issues or concerns. Employees can check the approved response list to have answers ready to post or know who to contact internally to help de-escalate a situation.
3. Staying within the law
Though this seems fairly obvious, policies should follow state and federal laws. If you’re unsure of these laws, it’s best to seek legal advice to make sure your company is in compliance.
Sprout Social suggests also considering:
- Copyright isn’t a no-brainer, so it’s best to explain how to comply with copyright law on social media, especially when using third-party content.
- Privacy is key. Do all of your employees know how to handle customer information, for instance?
- Confidentiality refers to respecting your organization’s internal information. Whether you have your people sign non-disclosure agreements or not, they should be aware of the ramifications of disclosing information on social media that the organization considers private.
4. Personal account guidelines
Let’s face it: you can’t control everything your employees say on Facebook or any other social channel, but what they post does have an impact on your business. Outline basic guidelines for employees’ personal accounts that – at a minimum – create a level of respect for the company and other employees. These might include:
- No speaking negatively about the business or its staff
- No posting of harassing, hateful, or illegal content
Adidas, for example, has a document that specifically outlines the accepted behavior for employees’ online presence:
“You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory (like religion or politics) … we all appreciate respect.”
A social media policy helps eliminate the “gray area” of your employees’ social profiles. Yes, your employees are active on social media sites. And yes, they are a direct reflection of your brand. By creating a social media policy that provides guidelines and expected behavior, you can feel confident in your employees’ online presence. You may even find that their activity on social platforms promotes your business, driving brand awareness and increasing customer loyalty.
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