Social media’s infiltration of the business world has only increased over the past few years since its implementation as a marketing tactic.  Companies are using social media marketing techniques across various platforms, channels, and networks to promote their brands and engage with potential clients, customers, and business partners.  Social media marketing has quickly gained traction in many industries, yet many of the professional service industries have shown hesitance in the acceptance of social media due to transparency and compliance issues.  Although social media has gained wider acceptance over the past few years, many of these concerns still remain.

This is where a well-defined corporate social media policy comes in.  Although the world of social media keeps growing, the same principles for a social media corporate policy still apply, as can be seen from the following excerpt from Kent Huffman’s post A Corporate Social Media Policy: Do You Really Need One? written in 2009.  While this provides an in depth and detailed view into the elements of a corporate social media policy, the essentials of this hypothetical policy can be boiled down to 3 basic points: Clarity, Monitoring, and Reputation Management.

 

1. Clarity

    • Make sure that your social media policy is clear, and implement the guidelines of employee social media use into your onboarding materials.

 

  • Ensure your policies remain up to date and send employees reminders of these policies.   They should also be able to access the policy through your online company network, where the guidelines should be posted.

 

 

  • Encourage feedback from employees to make sure they have a complete understanding of the guidelines.  Be clear about repercussions for any breech of the policy.

 

 

 

2. Monitoring

    • Inform potential employees early on that they may be asked to provide you with any public social media profiles during the onboarding process so you can monitor their social media usage. This act of full disclosure can avoid any controversy over privacy issues.  Employees will be more conscious of what they are posting online if they are aware that their actions reflect upon the company.

 

  • There are many tools out there that can find red flags in what employees are posting.  Use them.

 

 

 

3. Reputation Management

    • The social media policy of your company can be rather flexible depending on the nature of your industry (whether employees can post on behalf of the company or not, use the company name, etc.), but it should ultimately be used as a reputation management tool.

 

  • Outline for employees what acceptable behavior online entails and what needs to be cleared through HR first. BE DETAILED! You want to leave as little room for misinterpretation as possible.

 

 

 

As long as your company can define clear expectations for employees’ use of social media, then you can use social networks to your advantage.  The great thing about social media is that if you monitor it closely, even if there is a breech of policy, it can be amended quickly.  A corporate social media policy for employees that is effectively partnered with a social media marketing strategy can actually enhance your company’s image.

If the guidelines allow for employees within the company to act as brand ambassadors you can actually increase employee engagement and morale, and enhance your visibility throughout the marketplace.  If you give employees the opportunity to gain your trust, you can ultimately use them to optimize visibility for your company across multiple channels.

 

By Jess Spar