Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Adopting a Social Media Policy for your Company

Social media has changed the way companies do business. There is an extremely positive aspect to this new form of communication. Developing a strong brand identity across various social media platforms allows a company to expand their customer base like never before. Direct messages to millions of consumers can be effectively delivered with a click of the mouse.

On the other hand, that same vast social network can turn against a company if a negative aspect were to go “viral.” The best way for your business to protect itself is to not only understand all the social media platform policies but also to develop a comprehensive social media policy for your employees. Here are some of the basics to social media that will help you deal with your customers online.

Every social media platform has rules that should be read, understood and followed.

These rules and guidelines cover the expected behavior of the users. If someone on your staff is assigned the task to create Facebook posts or Twitter tweets they need to understand those policies before diving in. Just because they use these networks in their private lives doesn’t mean the same rules apply in the corporate realm.

Essentially, you should strive to always be respectful.

When you open your company up for social media interaction you’re going to find yourself on the receiving end of negative comments. That is just the way it will go. One option would be to scrub those comments as they come in but that can generate even more negative responses on other sites. The best approach is to be proactive. Whenever possible, try to respond to those comments in an affirmative way that puts the company in a positive light. You might not sway the poster’s opinion, but you could be having an impact on all the other readers. Don’t engage in a back and forth defense. State your company’s policy and leave it at that.

Keep company secrets - secret.

This is especially true for the employees. There are many trade secrets and confidential information that a company keeps locked away for good reason. No employee should be sharing that information across the social media network. This aspect of the company is especially important for new staff members to understand. They might not be up to speed on what information can be made public. Make sure every employee knows your company’s “sharing” policy.

Restrict social media at work

As an employer you can’t infringe on your employee’s right to post on a social media network about their private lives. However, you are well within your right to restrict that kind of posting during work hours. Your employees shouldn’t be monitoring Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or Pinterest unless it is work related.

Social media can’t be ignored; it is here to stay. Fortunately, there are many resources and tools at your disposal to keep track of your company’s reputation. Depending on the size of your business you might find yourself hiring staff to exclusively work in the social media realm and that could turn out to be a very smart investment.