Regulating Social Media usage in your company
Have you set rules to regulate the usage of Social Media within your company? Where is the limit between employees' privacy and company's rights?
Whether you are a "new age" company using web marketing and Social Media on a daily basis or a more traditional corporation refusing to risk your image on the internet, Social Media necessarily has impact on your strategies.
I would like to consider the influence of Social Media as layers overlapping your daily work.
The first layer would be Social Media as part of your strategy.
The second layer would be what your employees do with the corporate Social Media channels.
The third and final layer concerns the way your employees use Social Media privately, within and outside the company.
As I try to explain it in my article "How to manage negative posts on my Facebook page", it is essential to give sufficient power to your Community Manager or Social Media Manager (whatever title you give to the person in charge of your online communication). Without this freedom of talk the whole concept of "live community" within Social Media is impossible.
Nevertheless, freedom comes at a price: rules and protocols must be clearly established to orientate the way each query, comment or complaint must be handled.
You surely have limitations in terms of what is acceptable to post on your Facebook page and what isn't. Why not putting those regulations in a single document?
The purpose isn't to cut the creativity of your fellow employee or colleague but to create a frame in which he can then freely express his talent.
Setting up rules enables you to remove a burden from your shoulders: based on the idea that the person in charge will follow the guidelines you do not need to worry any longer about your online communication, it is already handled the way you wish.
Surely some of your employees want to show their motivation and their love for your product by leaving comments on your Social Media channel. You might have sales that want to boost their commission by spreading the word of your products' quality. This enthusiasm shouldn't be turned down as they certainly are the best ambassadors you might have. But shouldn't you control it a little and set limits to avoid a mess? Not everyone is a good communicator: having good intentions might not be enough.
It would be a good idea to set simple guidelines on what one can and cannot do on the corporate pages.
Keep it simple: long and complicated regulations will have no other effect than discouraging people from posting.
Find your own way to encourage people while making sure they do not harm your image.
That might be the most difficult part as you will need to balance control with respect of privacy.
There are two main issues to consider here: on one hand how to regulate private browsing during working hours and on the other hand how to control negative posting on personal pages.
Private browsing in the office
The first one must be clearly specified to employees when they join the company and reminded from time to time (bad habits tend to come back sooner or later): what is allowed during working hours? Can I browse my emails, go on Facebook or Twitter? What about using my personal smartphone for this purpose?
Try not to be too restrictive, keep in mind that the web is evolving: what is popular today might not be tomorrow and it is therefore better to talk about "Social Media" than about "Facebook" or "Twitter".
My personal thinking on this matter is to look at results only: do whatever you want as long as the work is done properly and within the timeframe. Too much control is only killing creativity.
Posting from home
The second sensitive point concerns "home posting".
Obviously, your employees are free to post whatever they want on their private page during their private time.
Nevertheless, they also know confidential information about your company that you wouldn't want to see disclosed on the web!
What would be the best way to avoid this situation while respecting your colleagues and employees' privacy?
Control is out of the question: beside the fact that it would be illegal, that would also be time consuming and would surely destroy the trust people have in you.
A good solution is to clearly inform people when they join the company of what is acceptable and what could lead them to court. Defining a clear line from the beginning surely helps avoiding conflicts.
For all those aspects, the idea is always the same: go for transparent and simple rules, make those clear to everyone and for the rest simply trust your people.
For more tips on how to improve your daily operations, you might want to read "Improving efficiency by pointing out obvious problems": it contains some tips for changing your employees' way of handling problems.
Edit: instead of writing a long and complicated manual for your employees to follow (that would completely discourage them to participate to your social effort), here are a few very simple guidelines you might want to share with your team:
- don't talk first: as an employee, never share any piece of information publically before your company officially communicated it
- don't hide who you are: if you talk about your company, let people know you work for it but do not represent it. When you try to pretend being a simple "fan", you risk to harm your company's image and your own.
- be respectful: don't do anything you wouldn't do offline. Respect people and do not share private information or internal details.
- don't hit your competitors: never bad-mouth your competitors. Looking down on others will never make you taller.
- don't over-do it: sharing, liking, commenting, pinning, posting... that's great! Don't over-do it though, you would lose credibility.
Tags: social media privacy organization