There’s no denying that we live in a digital world. And as much as we try to separate our work lives from our personal lives, it’s certainly hard to do, especially online. With more than half of the world on social media, you can find content ranging from a detailed description of lunch to a reminiscent post about vacations past to the adorable furry friend recently added to the fam. You may even find people posting about the company they work for. It’s estimated that 98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use. And of those employees, 50% are posting about their company.
Recently, Chrissy Teigen found herself in hot water over old Tweets that had resurfaced. Unless you’re living under a very dark rock, you know it wasn’t great for the model turned TV personality. She lost deals, she lost money and she lost respect from a lot of her fans. But this isn’t the first time a celebrity, or average person, has found themselves in the limelight over a social media slip (or total face plant).
That being said, we shouldn’t let one or two misled apples ruin social media for all. Employees sharing info about the brand they work for can be powerful and give your company a huge advantage. But the key to successful employee advocacy online lies within your social media policy. A great policy provides clear guidelines that are in place to help protect both the company and the employee.
If you haven’t given your social media policy a second thought since you created it in 2010, now is the time to review. So much has changed over the last few years in the world of social media, and it’s important that your policy reflects that. Here are five things to make sure your policy includes.
#1 What, Exactly, You Consider to be “Social Media”
What do you think of when you hear “social media?” We’re going to take a guess and say the Big Five: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. A few years ago, we might have agreed with you. But as of today, many more social platforms have emerged (there’s over 100!). Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Tumblr, and WhatsApp are all social platforms to consider, not to mention employees with personal blogs. Be clear on what your company considers to be “social media” to ensure that the guidelines you present are being followed on all applicable platforms.
#2 Sharing is Caring
Employees are your greatest brand ambassadors. They already know and (hopefully) love your product or service. In fact, content shared by employees receive 8X more engagement than content shared by brand channels. So, embrace it and encourage your team to advocate for your brand. List positive ways they can promote your brand from their personal account, like sharing product or service information, resharing company news and events, or giving a behind-the-scenes look at the company culture. These activities allow you to leverage new audiences, attract new talent, boost brand awareness, and give your employees the opportunity to engage. Win/win!
Pro tip: When you post on your company’s LinkedIn page, a pop-up appears to encourage your employees to share the content. Take advantage of features like these!
#3 The “Absolutely Nots”
As you list out the things that are encouraged, be just as crystal-clear about what is NOT acceptable on social media. This should include hate speech, threats of violence, harassment, bullying, defamation, and racial epithets. Remind your employees that these kinds of activities are strictly prohibited because not only are they illegal, but they also violate your company’s code of ethics.
#4 Discretion is Advised
Depending on your industry, your employees may deal with sensitive or confidential information. While it may seem like a given, it’s best practice to remind employees that they should never disclose confidential information online (or any other way for that matter!). Spell it out – better to be safe than sorry!
#5 When in Doubt, Phone A Friend
Using common sense when posting is important, but occasionally there may be a situation an employee is unsure about. Take the stress and uncertainty out of the picture and provide a point of contact at your company who employees can call or email with any social media questions or concerns. Keeping a line of communication open reduces the risk of a social slip up and lets your employees know that the company has their back!
What You Can Do: Always Have a Plan
If the moment comes that an employee posts something on their personal account that reflects negatively on your company or brand, don’t ignore it and hope it goes away. Things live on the internet forever and not responding could make it worse. The best way to avoid becoming the next “cancelled” brand is to follow the best practice of addressing negative incidents in a timely manner. So, create a plan. Now! Having a few drafted responses at the ready can help your team during a stressful situation.