Does your company need a social media policy?
The answer is YES. Most of your employees are already online "talking", so this is a great opportunity for you to encourage them to share and promote the values of your company. At the same time, it's important to remind them to protect your company's privacy and integrity. Your policy should not only apply when your employees are engaged in social media for work purposes while at work, but also when they are participating at home and during their own personal time.
What shouldn't employees discuss on social media?
Employees should be prohibited from discussing anything to do with discrimination, sexual harassment or confidential company information. Employees should also be prohibited from participating in any discussion that belittles or ridicules the value of the company's product or service and any discussion that involves name-calling or negative behavior that damages the employee or the company.
Don't assume your employees know what topics to avoid. Discuss this issue with each employee and give specific examples of proper and improper actions. Make sure everyone knows that you will take any breech of your social media policy seriously and that any abuse, either online or offline, may lead to termination.
What CAN employees discuss?
Encourage your employees to participate in social media. It's a great way to share and promote your company's service, product, brand and workplace. Social media is a great forum for talking to customers and potential customers, as well as to prospective employees. It's also a great venue for customers to share their experiences, and for you to improve customer experiences that may not have met expectations. It's a great place to meet the people who like your company and like doing business with you. Consequently, employees must respect the people they're talking to. They must be knowledgeable and courteous when discussing your company, as well as transparent and honest about their real names and the real name of your company.
Not all of my employees understand social media. How can I help them?
If you don't already have a "social media director", we suggest that you ask for a volunteer - someone who understands and enjoys social media - to act in that capacity. This person can teach the rest of your employees, and answer any questions they have. Older employees may not be as familiar with social media as younger ones. A company class on social media can be a great bonding experience and enhance company and employee morale.
Should my social media policy apply to every channel?
Yes, and it's a good idea to be specific about what those channels are and to update them frequently as new platforms emerge. Currently, the most popular mass-appeal platforms include blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter. Any forum that encourages a sharing of conversations, text, images, slides and videos is considered to be within the arena of social media.