Social media may be only a few years old, but it shouldn’t be underestimated. Its hyper-decentralized nature, with the narrative driven by the combination of thousands, or millions, of smaller voices rather than the behemoths of old-fashioned print and television media, make it both harder to manipulate and more effective (and less expensive) when effectively utilized.
Social media requires a two-pronged approach: the guidelines and expectations for your employees in their own personal use, and your company’s approach to its social media.
Why have a social media policy for your employees?
- What an employee does or says reflects on you – Many people identify themselves on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter by their job, which is fine when they’re on message, making you look good, and everything is going fine. But off the clock, an employee’s negative social media lifestyle choices, be they Facebook status updates with references to copious consumption of alcohol or drugs, poor decisions like drunk driving or other illegal activity captured on Instagram, or abusive or offensive language used on Twitter, they all reflect on your company. In other cases, an employee getting dragged into a political or religious discussion could cast a negative light on your company.
- To clarify expectations – An employee’s idea of responsible social media usage may not match management’s. By clearly spelling out what is allowed and what is prohibited, you avoid any ambiguity that could cause conflict or embarrassment in the future. Such a policy also deprives a wayward employee of the ability to claim ignorance when reprimanded.
- To provide a pre-emptive deterrent – Clearly laying out social media expectations does more than protect you in case of an infraction. Having a social media policy, and actively propagating it, can deter employees from alerting the world to the worst of their less-than-wholly-professional moments.
While discussion of employee mistakes may prompt you to ask why you should bother with social media at all, it remains a valuable tool for doing business. Why?
- Social media connects you with the people actively discussing your industry.
- It’s a free means to keep in touch with your clients.
- It creates voluntary connections with potential new business.
- It allows you to rapidly respond to any customer service issues.
- It allows you to help shape the public perception of your company.
Both small and large businesses, like deodorant maker Old Spice, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, or fast food restaurant Taco Bell, have successfully used social media to engage with their customers, building connections and reputations that serve their brands. This connection to their customers is important is building and maintaining a well-rounded relationship with their customers and prospects.
We can help you put a harness on that social media beast and have it work for you instead of against you. Don’t hesitate to ask us how today.