Why Your Business Needs a Social Media Policy
Employees can be a business’s best brand ambassadors on social networks. Due to the transparency that consumers have come to expect from businesses, social media users are more likely to believe information that comes from a specific employee than a generally branded company message. Businesses are beginning to use these relationships to their advantage, but many are leaving the door open to problems without a proper social media policy in place.
Although members of a company have the ability to act as influencers in the industry, they can also have an adverse effect when content is left unmonitored. For this reason, it is in a business’s best interest to create a social media policy that is easily accessible to all employees and covers all the necessary networks and possible pitfalls.
In today’s technology driven world the number of people using social media increases daily. There are nearly 850 million Facebook users, and over 465 million twitter accounts with 1 million new accounts being created daily. This means it is more than likely that your employees use social networking in their personal life whether it’s the previously mentioned networks or a more centralized source of information like a personal blog.
There are a large number of ways for employees to interact with your business and create content that could have an effect on the company. By creating a policy to handle personal social media accounts, corporate social media accounts, and the interactions that can take place between the two.
Of course social media policies need to vary the severity of the language based on the industry. Gap, for example, found a way to create a straightforward social media policy that maintains a conversational tone while being clear and to the point. Broken into three categories “Keep in mind,” “How to be the best,” and “Don’t even think about it,” the policy covers issues from crisis management to the issues in personal/professional information overlap.
A bit more traditionally, Intel’s social media guidelines maintain a fair amount of legal language but again break down the information into their “3 Rules of Engagement: Disclose, Protect, Use Common Sense.” The company promotes transparency in social media engagement, but makes it clear that failure to abide by the guidelines will have consequences.
Social media policy needs to be adjusted for various industries and businesses – regulations in certain fields like finance and pharmaceuticals enforce that. However, no industry is “laid back” enough to forego a social media policy all together. Clear and understandable social media policies are necessary so that employees can abide by them, and businesses can protect themselves while engaging with their audience.