Guest Post: Why Your Company Needs a Social Media Policy

[Jas’ note: I’m glad to have my friend Ben Butler provide a guest post on a very important topic]

The company handbooks given to new employees nowadays seem to be getting thicker and thicker. Unfortunately, it seems that one potentially brand-crippling area is neglected—social media.

Here’s why your company needs to add a social media policy to its employee handbook:

It Clarifies Expectations

Your company may not be on social media, but I can almost guarantee that your employees are. You should never assume that your employees will represent themselves or your company properly. In fact, it often seems that some people forget the standard rules of engagement when they’re online.

Establishing a social media policy puts all of your expectations in one, formalized place. This will help you explain what behaviors are discouraged and even what could get someone fired.

Some of the topics you may want to cover include: best practices for discussing the company, what company topics are social-policyrestricted (confidentiality concerns), venting about customers, racist comments or posting inappropriate photos.

It Helps You in Times of Crisis

Remember Justine Sacco?

The former director of corporate communications for IAC Tweeted, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get Aids. Just kidding. I’m white!” before getting on a plane. Not only did her Tweet created a personal crisis for Sacco, but it suddenly created one for IAC as well. Sacco’s rank in the company immediately attached them to the chaos.

Because they knew how to handle employee conduct in the digital realm, they were able to quickly and properly react by denouncing her comments and publicly firing her before she even landed in Africa.

It Can Enhance Your Company’s Brand

It’s difficult to control exactly how and when your employees talk about your company, but it’s wise to add a best practices section to your social media policy.

Sometimes employees want to share the news, but are unsure how to do so. Be sure to provide examples of how employees can advance your company’s brand on social media. It also probably wouldn’t hurt to include stories like Sacco’s so that employees know what happens when social media is used incorrectly.

How has your company used a social media policy?

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Ben Butler is the founder and president of Top Hat IMC, an integrated marketing communications firm in Wexford and Pittsburgh, Pa.

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About JasMollica

"It's never too late to have a life and it's never too late to change one." That's something I tell students, friends, and family all the time. After living and working in New York City, I took my own advice in 2004, switched my career from the television/radio industry and got into public relations. Now, I spend my days as a PR/social media marketing consultant and get inspired daily. It's been a good ride, so far. But the car has plenty of gas left. I hope you'll join along in this guy's journey!

Posted on July 8, 2014, in Guest Blog, Public Relations, Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Paula Kiger (Big Green Pen)

    SUCH an important topic! I’ll be coming back to comment when I have time to put my thoughts together!! The main thing I would say (until then) is that organizational leadership needs to realize that employees are using social media whether you have a policy or not; it’s important not to be afraid of the unknown.

  2. Paula Kiger (Big Green Pen)

    Okay, I’m back. I appreciate Ben’s realistic approach to this topic. Back in 2008/2009, if I saw a coworker’s post on Facebook (let’s say I was home with a sick child), I would be shocked that they were using Facebook at work. Fast forward to 2014 and whether it’s a furtive tweet from a smart phone in the bathroom (or wherever) or a social media interaction initiated from a work-issued desktop, people are on social media (as Ben stated). I was shocked at a contact center conference once when we (as contact center leaders) were encouraged to let trainees have their smart phones (and personal social media access) with them in the training environment. The lines are indeed very porous these days. It’s sad that a written policy even HAS TO explain that racist references shouldn’t be made on social media but that’s probably true. I’d be curious if Ben has examples of fantastic social media policies that he has run across … Great post!

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