In today’s fast-paced world of social media, it’s important for all businesses and organizations to have a social media policy that protects them, their employees and their brands. When they don’t, they are “operating without a safety net” by giving their employees no clear-cut guidance on the company’s expectations of how employees will interact via social media with the public, customers, vendors or even stakeholders. How can employees follow a policy when one doesn’t exist?
It’s no longer safe to assume common sense prevails when it comes to social media. Many people today share a lot of their personal information online through various social channels. That comfortability with online sharing can (and does) easily lead to sharing information that may impact your company brand reputation.
So, how do you protect yourself, your employees and your brand? Follow this five-step process:
- Build a policy
- Legally review the policy
- Incorporate the policy into the onboarding process
- Train and routinely update employees
- Provide opportunities for engagement
Build a Policy
Building a social media policy can be a daunting task but it’s an important one that needs to be set in place as soon as possible and is a great opportunity to educate employees of the “why” behind the policy. Explain to employees that this policy better prepares the organization to ensure transparency and distribution of accurate information with the public. Too many representatives on social is similar to having too many cooks in the kitchen.
As drafting of the social media policy begins, carefully consider including the following sections and information:
- Identify who the company spokesperson is and who is permitted to post to social.
- Ensure the policy does not inhibit the legal rights of employees.
- Provide guidelines for personal privacy on social and set the expectation that employees’ and customers’ privacy should be respected.
- Set the standard that trade secrets should be managed and protected.
- Clearly outline the penalties for employees who do not comply with the policy.
Legally Review the Policy
GRIT recommends all clients consider having their social media policies reviewed and approved by legal representation prior to use. Legal review is a critical step to ensure the company is protected and that employees’ rights are intact.
Incorporate the Policy into Onboarding
The easiest way to make a social media policy a part of employee expectations is to make it a part of the onboarding process for new employees. GRIT recommends having employees sign and date this policy as a confirmation that they have received, understand and agree to abide by the policy.
Train and Routinely Update Employees
Just including the social media policy in the onboarding process is not enough. This policy is critically important and included in a training process for all existing employees. Once all employees are educated, they may also benefit from ongoing education and reminders annually or during key, highly sensitive times (such as during a brand crisis). Ongoing communication is key to making sure employees are aware and feel comfortable following the social media policy.
Provide Opportunities for Engagement
Many organizations wish to expand their reach and exposure by encouraging employees to engage with the company’s social media posts. It can be helpful to include a section in the social media policy that specifically outlines employee guidelines for interacting with the company on social media. Employees who are nervous about engaging may feel more confident with a policy that clearly states they are permitted to like, share and interact with the company’s social channels from their private pages if they are following pre-set guidelines outlined within the policy.
When it comes to social media, brands can quickly be put at risk when employee policies, expectations and education is not in place. Critical thinking and legal review now can better protect your brand now and into the future.
Need support developing your social media policy? Give us a call!