Does Your Business Need A Social Media Policy?

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If there’s one thing you can count on in today’s culture, it’s that your employees are on social media. Have you thought about how that affects your business? While Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like offer great opportunities for free promotion and networking for companies, they also bring new challenges. Employers must think about whether or not to regulate social media use — and how.

If you haven’t already, maybe it’s time to ask yourself: Does your business need a social media policy? If so, what should it look like? To help answer these questions, here’s a look at how social media affects the modern workplace.

Corporate Social Media Policy vs. Personal Social Media Policy

When it comes to social media and business, there are two different arenas to think about — your business social media accounts (which your employees may manage or use on your brand’s behalf) and your employees’ personal social media accounts (which they may use in the workplace and/or indirectly reflect your brand).

  • Corporate social media: No matter what individual(s) is behind your brand’s social media accounts, what he or she posts is a direct reflection of your business. What’s more, everything that gets posted is permanent — even if you take down a photo or Tweet after it’s gone up, someone likely has seen it. This is why you need to be super-careful about what your brand is posting, as well as to set standards for how and what your employees may post on your behalf.
  • Employees’ personal social media: While an employee’s personal life — and, by extension, social media accounts — can’t be completely regulated by its employer, your business should have a say about how those employees could be indirectly representing it online. If an employee posts something negative about your business, for example, or shares confidential data, that’s a major problem. This is why communicating standards for behavior online is vital.

Basic Standards Worth Implementing in Your Social Media Policy

Businesses need to think about their reputations online, so social media policies are becoming the norm. An effective corporate social media policy may name the individuals who speak on its behalf online, for example, as well as provide guidelines for how inappropriate posts (corporate or personal) will be handled. Mostly, the policy should train employees in what is and isn’t OK to share.

If you’re looking to set a social media policy for your staff, dictating how employees post for or about your brand, here are a few basic guidelines to consider. Generally speaking, these policies can serve your brand well.

  1. A consistent brand voice online. In terms of how employees post on your brand’s behalf, you need a clear, tangible set of guidelines that ensure everything is on target. What’s your tone — hip and fun or professional and academic? What drives your content decisions? What’s a major no-no? Nail down a clear sense of how your brand should be portrayed, and make that crystal-clear to anyone who has access to your accounts.
  2. No sharing confidential info. Whether on the company account or a personal account, everything is confidential — information about clients, customer receipts, proprietary information about the business, etc. — never can be shared.
  3. Caution on controversial views. Unless your brand is comfortable taking a stand on controversial issues, you may want to steer your ambassadors away from discussing hot-button topics. Likewise, if your brand is defined by certain values or standards, this needs to shape its posts online.
  4. Keeping conflict offline. Workplace conflicts are bound to happen, but savvy employers instruct their team members to keep conflict off social media. Whether it’s a complaint against management or another employee, voicing concerns online escalates problems and reflects poorly on your brand.

In addition to these examples of social media guidelines your brand might use, you’ll also want to incorporate any restrictions that are deemed important to your business. The better you communicate your standards for social media behavior, the easier it is for your employees to understand what you want — as well as for you to protect your business online.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance copywriter who regularly writes and blogs about B2B topics. She's been active in social media since 2008.

Shanna Mallon is a freelance copywriter who regularly writes and blogs about B2B topics. She's been active in social media since 2008.