Should Your Business Have a Social Media Policy?

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In today’s ever-connected world, social media is king. As a business owner, you want your business’s image and reputation to reflect certain values so, when trusted employees post questionable content on their personal social media accounts your business’s good standing can take a serious hit. The following are some of the most fundamental ways a social media policy can help protect your enterprise:

First and foremost, a social media policy lays the company’s expectations for employee social media behavior out plainly. Your employees are a direct reflection of their leadership, management, and company policy so ensuring they are well-versed regarding your expectancies clears the way for them to be nothing less than successful with your organization.

Within a social media policy, the ground rules for what employees can and can’t post about your company should be unmistakably defined and spelled out. As an example, it should be made clear that social media posts which make derogatory statements or share insider, “need to know” information about your company have no business being shared publicly on social media by any staff member.

Interestingly, as more social media platforms merge, what is posted on one platform can easily be linked to via another, such as the Facebook/Instagram combination. While a disgruntled employee might post a ranting type statement about your company on his Facebook page, a customer could stumble across that rant via a link on the ranting employee’s professional LinkedIn profile.

Your social media policy should also be able to educate your employees about the topics of discussion they engage in or post about on their social media accounts. Some social issues such as religion and politics are particularly volatile and can be polarizing as well as often becoming confrontational. Although an employee is certainly entitled to their opinions, if those views and social media posts reflecting them aren’t in line with your company’s philosophies and values, then perhaps that isn’t the kind of employee that should be working within your organization. This is especially true as many unknowing patrons easily mistake a worker’s opinion as reflecting the company’s opinion which can have detrimental effects.

Professional boundaries are a topic that must also be addressed within a social media policy. A laid-back atmosphere is one thing in the work setting, but workplace hierarchies still need to be respected. Meaning, the lowest level worker in your organization should feel comfortable in approaching you at the office on a professional level, but that doesn’t mean she can Facebook “stalk” you or make inappropriate comments on your or your family members’ social media accounts.

Unfortunately, for as much good as social media has done to connect people around the world, it has also become a dumping ground for people’s need to air their personal grievances. As happens with any structured organization, there will be conflicts within the workplace, whether personal or professional. These conflicts should remain in house for mediation and resolution, and only reach outside the corporate boundaries if resolution can’t be achieved internally. Employees should understand that airing the company’s “dirty laundry” is not only unnecessary in most instances, but unacceptable.

Social media has quickly become a tenet of modern society and shows no signs of slowing down. Ensuring employees know how to utilize it appropriately as a reflection of your organization is essential to maintaining your company’s good reputation. Because just as a business can achieve massive success overnight via a great social media campaign, businesses are destroyed overnight because of negative social media backlash on a “viral” level.

We’ve only just scratched the surface in this post regarding the types of topics that should be covered in your company’s social media policy, but at this point, you should have a good idea of what subjects ought to be included in yours to best protect your organization. Lastly, it’s important to note that although social media policies must be comprehensive, they must also be comprehensible, so workers have no misconceptions of acceptable social media behavior as a member of your company’s team.

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