There are many reasons why companies have rules about employees’ use of social media. Mainly they are in place to protect intellectual property, maintain customer loyalty, or avoid lawsuits. If your company does not have an employee social media policy, now is the time to implement one.
Social media is a large part of our lives. It has become an essential tool for companies to use in employee engagement and customer acquisition. If you are struggling with creating a social media policy that balances the needs of both the company, employees, and customers, you are not alone.
In this article, we will discuss six ways to create social media rules for employees. That way, employees can build their personal brands while keeping the company safe.
What Is An Employee Social Media Policy?
An employee social media policy is a document that sets out clear, concise guidelines on how to be an online citizen. This policy is more than just a set of rules for employees. It helps to outline your expectations and clarify what’s appropriate behavior in the workplace.
The policy should include:
- What social media sites employees are allowed to use for work.
- How often and under what circumstances they can check their accounts during work hours.
- What they are and aren’t allowed to share about their working relationship with your organization.
- When they need to perform security audits/change passwords.
- Differences between personal accounts and accounts created on behalf of the company.
These items should be reflected in your policy so that it’s easy for employees to understand when they are allowed to share things like company wins, general customer information, etc.
Employer and employees’ personal brands are more intertwined than ever before. Employers are leveraging the brands of their employees, and employees are growing their networks every day. This relationship can be positive or negative for companies, but it must be addressed.
More than 51% of employees state that their company has policies about using social media at work. More than 32% say their employer has strict rules in place about how they may represent themselves and their personal brand.
With more companies getting on board with setting up these policies, there has never been a better time to establish a policy of your own. The best way to start crafting an excellent social media policy is to create some ground rules that detail who can share which types of content. The policy should also cover what information to keep private.
Remember: it’s best to create a stance on issues like this. Avoiding this issue will only set your employees up for failure if they have a different view of using social media at work. They need guidance from you to represent the company well.
6 Tips To Create Social Media Rules For Employees
Now that you have the big picture of what a social media policy can include, let’s dive into creating and implementing your policy.
1. Stop Thinking Of Social Media As Procrastination
Social media is often viewed by many as a time-wasting activity. In reality, it can be an effective way to create engaging content for the internet while also practicing skills necessary for today’s society, such as communication and creativity.
Stop thinking of social media as just another way employees might procrastinate. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn all have their own unique features that make them ideal for interacting with audiences – and potential customers.
In fact, social media can have a profound impact on the way that potential customers find and decide to purchase your products. Social media can shorten the buying process drastically, and social media referrals make 71% of consumers more likely to purchase. Another statistic that companies should be aware of is that consumers are more trusting of content posted by real people versus brands. These posts often get much more engagement (and therefore, they reach more people.)
So when you are building your company’s social media policy, take into consideration these statistics and the purpose of allowing employees to use social media.
2. Consult Your Marketing/Sales Department And Company Leaders
When developing a social media policy, you must speak to the marketing and sales department and company leaders. Consult with them before making any significant changes because they know what will be most profitable for advertising and other aspects of managing social media conduct.
Your marketing leaders should be able to help you come up with a fair policy that balances employee posting with legal considerations. Have a quick chat to see if they have any resources or favorite social media policies to base yours on.
You’ll also want to consult with your sales team. Sales leaders are probably going to be one of the most affected by your social media policy, especially if they do a lot of prospecting on social media. Sales leaders are finding a lot of value in using social media to connect with prospective customers. You don’t want your policies to be so close-minded that you stop sales professionals from doing their job effectively.
3. Write Out Your Policies And Keep Them Concise
It may be a lot to keep track of, but you need your social media policies down pat. You’ll want to:
- Outline what is and isn’t appropriate for employees regarding their personal social media accounts.
- Mention how they should act online while representing the company (i.e., no obscene language).
- Include specific information about not posting confidential or proprietary data like trade secrets and other private customer info.
Keep your policy short but helpful. We want employees to feel comfortable referencing this policy. Don’t get so caught up imagining every disaster scenario that could ever happen when producing your social media policy. Social media content isn’t rocket science, after all.
Dell has a simple policy for employees on social media. Here is what Dell has set out as their social media rules for employees:
- Protect personally identifiable information of customers and team members.
- Disclose and be transparent. When you talk about Dell, let people know that you work for Dell.
- Obey the law, and follow the code of conduct by following social media site rules and copyright/trademark laws.
- Be responsible with how you communicate and share about Dell and make sure that you only post content you’d be okay with your boss seeing.
- Have fun, connect, and be nice. Treat social media like chatting with potential customers and avoid racism, misogyny, or online harassment.
- Dell owns accounts created to participate in social media activities on behalf of Dell (this doesn’t apply to personal accounts.)
Once you have your policy written down, keep it somewhere easily accessible. You can either add it to your employee handbook or keep it separate. We suggest that you include it in your remote onboarding software and make sure that you get employees to sign off on it.
4. Train New And Existing Employees On Social Media Usage
If you aren’t training employees on social media usage yet, it might be time to start. It’s about more than going over your policies, a social media class for employees can change the way your company shows up online.
Record a quick 15-minute training walking through your policy. If you aren’t well-versed in creating great social media content, get someone from your marketing team to put together an additional 15-20 minute presentation on using social media at work. Be sure to add some examples of great content that your team has shared. This second training video can also share some examples of what not to post by checking social media for bad content.
Once you record this session, you can deliver it asynchronously to anyone in your organization (as well as future hires.)
Let employees know that they can always come to you or your marketing department with clarifying questions.
5. Model Great Social Media Usage For Your Company
Training employees is one thing, but you should always practice what you preach. The next step that you have to take is modeling great social media usage as a company leader.
Take a look at your own social presence. Are you posting things that you’re proud of? How does your content stack up against the policy that you have created?
Live by the rules you’ve set and let your employees know how you plan to live up to the new policy.
6. Create A Plan For Social Media Mishaps
Policies are fantastic, but they are only sheets of digital paper. Mishaps and mistakes can happen, and we need policies in place to prepare for those issues.
An excellent way to start would be by brainstorming what your lines of defense might look like should something go wrong online. Do your employees know where to go if they spot a social media issue? What do you want from employees when addressing these issues? Screenshots, links, or something else? Perhaps you want to create a social media mishap form that alerts the necessary parties when a mistake or fraud is detected. Get clear on what happens after a social media mishap is detected.
Social media mishaps can go beyond a misconstrued social media update. You may need to discuss strategies with the IT department if any fraudulent activities, like hackers accessing company accounts.
At the same time, don’t envision a million terrible scenarios. Likely you are going to deal with very minor and fixable issues related to social media. Take some time to detail out 5-10 plans, but don’t go deeper than that.
Here are some sample ways to deal with social media mishaps:
Social media is a useful tool for customers who want to connect with companies about negative experiences. As a company, you’ll probably want to handle disgruntled customers and make sure they feel supported. Here’s a plan you might create for handling disgruntled customers on social media:
- Take screenshots and gather links to the bad post or review.
- Submit an inquiry using the internal social media mishap form.
- Identify the customer and associated account.
- Respond to the comment on the external website.
- Have the account’s customer success representative or another company leader reach out personally to get extra information and feedback.
Company Social Profile Got Hacked
Many company accounts face hacks, and they can be dangerous for organizations that have them. After a hack, you can take some simple steps to secure your account and make sure that the proper people are notified. Here’s a plan you might create for that:
- Fill out your company’s internal social media mishap form.
- Follow social media company protocols for securing hacked accounts.
- Change any shared passwords for every employee who is connected to the profile.
- Remove any fraudulent content and ensure that all fraudulent accounts no longer have access.
- Alert any party that needs this information about the steps you took to secure the accounts.
Create An Employee Social Media Policy For The Modern Age
A well-crafted, comprehensive social media guideline can be an invaluable tool for you as a supervisor and employer. It manages the delicate balance between personal life and work time. It does this without diminishing one over the other or making employees feel like they have less control over their own lives.
To ensure that your employees are protected and fulfilled, remember to be as specific as possible with your policies. Tailor them according to company culture and industry standards. This way, everyone will have a clear understanding of what is expected from one another moving forward.
This document is the key to any successful business. It should be revisited every year and updated accordingly, making it a valuable living resource for your company’s success in this ever-changing modern age of media.
With all the new employees joining your company, you want to make sure they are brought in with a fully developed social media policy. This policy can be incorporated into your employee onboarding software to ensure it never gets overlooked when you bring on a new hire.
It is incredibly vital for this policy document to be clear and concise to avoid misunderstandings among staff members.
Having a social media policy is vital for any company, but policy quality varies across the board. If you are working on one in your workplace, use these guidelines above to help make yours great!