Yes, Your Company Should Have a Social Media Policy.
No, It’s Not Just About Protection Any More.
The latest figures show that most companies are engaging in some sort of social media activity today. It’s very likely that nearly 100% of companies have employees using social media. But, how many of these companies have social media policies? When Shel Holtz presented to the Detroit Social Media Club last year, he said only 27% of companies had social media policies. A recent survey says only 35% now have social media policies. Not a very big jump. Especially, when every company should have one. Here’s why.
Protection of both company and employee
The reason most sited for having a social media policy is to protect the company. You don’t want company secrets leaking out. You don’t want your image tarnished. But it’s also about protecting your employees. A corporate social media policy is a code of conduct. It lets the employees know what is expected of them, both when at work and when on social networks on their own time. They need to know, if they affiliate themselves with the company in their personal space, what they can and can’t say. Give them what they need to stay out of trouble.
Companies can benefit from employee chatter
One of the common mistakes I see with companies we help craft social media policies is that they say, let’s not let the employees say anything about our company. Or worse, they can but they can’t say anything positive about our company. Yes, someone actually said that. I think their heart was in the right place, they knew that proper social media form was “don’t break your arm patting your own back.” However, if employees feel positive about your company and what you’re doing, let them tell their social circles about it. You can benefit from good buzz and positive brand image.
Recruitment and customer service
You can use your employee’s social networks to help recruit new employees for your company. They can help you figure out who you should hire when you have a position open. If your policy lets them use social media for this purpose, you can tell them “you know who would be good, because they’re on your social networks.” In your policy, you need to implement processes for this, it won’t just happen organically.
All employees on social networks should be an arm of your customer service – not just customer service people, every employee who wants to be engaged should be part of the process. Customer service works best if all employees engaged are a part of it. They may not be able to fix a problem, but if they see one happening online within their networks, they should be able to at least give the person encouragement and perhaps point them in the right direction to find help. But, again, you need to let them know that’s okay.
Your social media policy as part of branding
Yes, your social media policy should be a reflection of your brand and part of your branding efforts. I recently had a chat about this with Yaffe Group social media strategist, Jen Wright. Some of her comments on the subject can be seen in the video below.
These are just a few things to keep in mind when you’re helping your company or your client craft a social media policy. What other things have you found to be important?
Photo by Knezovjb <http://www.flickr.com/photos/knezovjb/2822498715/sizes/s/in/photostream/>