In 2015 it’s essential for a business of any size to have a Social Media Policy. Even if your business doesn’t use social media (but it certainly should!) then your employees will. You might consider banning Social media altogther during business hours, but this isn’t an effective solution. For one, employees with access to Social Media have been shown to be more productive. But more important than that, Social Media used outside of company hours and grounds can still be hugely damaging.
For many companies a ‘common-sense’ policy has been enough so far, but as a business grows it’s important to make sure your employees are in no doubt as to what is expected of them. Spell out what constitutes Social media and ensure they understand that they are always responsible for the consequences of what they post. Any association of their personal account and your business means that they must think before they post anything. Whether it’s something that could obviously bring the company into disrepute or not.
If you want to encourage your employees to actively engage with your brand on Social Media then consider having them create Branded accounts. This allows some separation from personal profiles whilst also allowing a degree of personalisation. It gives the business a variety of more personable faces whilst still being able to hold those accounts strictly to brand standards. It also means that the company has a claim to those accounts, a single employee cannot leave and take a huge chunk of your Social Media presence with them.
Brand Style Guides & Standards
Once you’ve decided how your employees will interact with Social Media it’s important to issue them with guidelines on what and how to post. Consistency is important if you have multiple employees posting from a single account. It’s also important to keep standards across branded employee profiles. Decide on the level of personalisation and a standard format for these so they don’t end up as de-facto personal accounts with just your brand name attached.
Some ideas of standardisation
- Pronouns – (I, We or “Company Name”)
- Tone – Formal or full of jokes? Try to keep this consistent if it’s multiple people posting from the same account
- Frequency of Activity – Ensure you’re active regularly, if some people are answered in seconds and others aren’t answered for days it will reflect badly on your company
- Engagement with Hashtags/Trends – Ensure only appropriate hashtags are used
It’s often worth ensuring your employees understand the different social networks and their nuances. LinkedIn is a professional network and should be treated as such. Generally a higher level of formality is required, things that are acceptable on Facebook and Twitter are not seen as ok on LinkedIn. Though most people will have a professional picture on LinkedIn many will have less than professional images and messages on Facebook and Twitter. Ensure that from the time during their employment they are made aware of the standard expected of them, especially if their personal accounts will be engaging with your brand.
It often helps to have some templates or guidelines for dealing with certain situations. Complaints must be handled sensitively and in a timely manner. If the employee that manages your Social Media has had no HR experience then they will need to have something to rely on for advice or acceptable behaviour. There are no end of stories that pop up in the media about particularly witty Social Media comments from brand associated accounts. Though this can be great PR, it can also backfire. Make sure your employees know what is expected of them and what is deemed appropriate. Though standardised messages aren’t encouraged as they go against the ‘personalisation’ best practice of Social Media it can be helpful to have a crib sheet for employees to refer to.