Social media has become deeply ingrained in the lives of many individuals since Facebook’s rise to popularity, serving as a primary point of contact for friends and family in many instances. This leaves many companies in a precarious situation. Of course, you cannot ask your employees not to use social networks, but at the same time, the things that your employees post on their Facebook accounts can reflect poorly upon your company and drive business away. Those pictures of your account manager from the previous weekend when they had a bit too much to drink probably will reflect poorly on your company and negatively affect the opinions of several clients.
Social media has given way to many privacy concerns, as well as concerns of reputation management, not only for employees who worry about overbearing employers prying too deeply into their personal lives to protect their own brands, but the same worries are extended to companies worried about clients conducting some in depth research about their employees. The goal of any company should be to craft a sensible social media policy that not only protects their brand, but also protects the privacy of their employees. Finding a happy medium is the key to a workable social media policy, for small and large businesses alike.
Content Posting Guidelines
Outline the types of content that employees are not allowed to post to their social media profiles. Be specific. Make sure to outline what kind of company-related information is allowed or disallowed to be shared and discussed over social networks.
Of course, no company wants to try to pry into, or limit the personal lives of their employees. However, employees directly represent your brand, especially if they have you actively listed as their employer on their profiles. Unfortunately, simply having “common sense guidelines” does not draw a very definitive line. Outline the types of behavior you would like to be avoided when representing your brand which can include but not be limited to exceedingly vulgar language, pictures of intoxication, and overtly political statements. Accompany this set of “hard guidelines” with basic common sense policies for representing your brand, and you have a recipe for success that works to the benefit of both parties. Advise them to utilize groups to post content that may be considered offensive when representing a brand, and limit who has access to borderline postings.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that these are their personal profiles, and they live lives that don’t revolve completely around your business. Allow your employees to be themselves through social networks, and don’t enforce overly strict rules regarding their usage. Make sure that your policies are not threatening, and never ask for passwords or any information regarding their account. Make sure that they understand that outside of negligence or malicious intent there will be no negative ramifications and that the company’s policies are in place to benefit both parties.
You can’t have policies in place if they are not going to be enforced. Let employees know that public profiles are going to be monitored to make sure that they are adhering to the policies and guidelines so they know that they will be held responsible. With that said, you also want to make sure that they know that the monitoring is passive, and that they are not being watched constantly.
The goal of any social media policy should be to protect the brand, without having to take an overbearing approach to enforcement. You should never ask your employees to supply you with their Facebook password, and should never make them feel like they are being watched by “big brother.” Set some hard guidelines in stone, and employ common sense policies to protect your brand, and keep employees and clients happy.