In the age of social media, it’s almost expected that employees will communicate with the outside world about their jobs. People have always talked about their jobs – now there’s just a digital record of the conversations. Whether tweeting a thought, posting an update, or sharing an anecdote, employees will utilize social media to talk about the minutiae of their workdays. Though your employees may not necessarily be using social media at work, they’re certainly talking about work after hours, and that includes the good parts and the bad.
As an employer, there’s nothing you can do to stop this – the only thing you can do is try and manage any brand-related communication your employees are sharing with their social networks. You certainly don’t want your employees sharing or exposing proprietary information or interacting inappropriately with your customers. But you will want them to share company milestones, customer wins, and new product releases or promotions.
So how do you find a happy medium between being a social eye in the sky and a social cheerleader? Between micro-managing your employees’ social interactions and giving them the freedom to use their own good sharing judgment? You can start by applying these 3 best practices for managing social media in your organization:
1. Implement a social media policy – A social media policy is a corporate code of conduct that explicitly outlines what is and is not appropriate for employees to share on the Internet with their professional and personal social networks. It’s an important document because it outlines corporate guidelines, rules, and expectations for what employees can digitally share with the outside world.
Even if you have responsible and knowledgeable employees, they might not know the rules of sharing company information on their social networks. They might inadvertently expose sensitive information when posting office party pictures on Facebook, or naively think it’s okay to vent about their annoying coworker on Twitter. Although you want to believe that your employees will use their best judgment when it comes to social media, they’re not mind readers.
Creating and implementing a social media policy will ensure that everyone in the company is on the same page. It will give your employees a clear guide for how to use social media for brand-related communications and it will also help protect your company’s online reputation. If you don’t have a social media policy in place yet, don’t worry – we’ve got a great template that you can download and customize here.
2. Educate your employees – It’s not enough to just send a mass email with a PDF attachment of the social media policy. It’s important to take the time and effort to reach out to all your employees to ensure they they’ve read and understand the policies and procedures. Maybe it’s fitting that you have a company-wide meeting with a PowerPoint presentation and the compliance department ready and waiting for any questions that might arise. Or maybe you just need to have an informal pow-wow with each department to go over the contents of the social media policy.
Whatever the approach, make sure that your employees are aware of everything that’s outlined in the policy. It will help protect your company legally and financially, and will also prevent social media blunders in the future by unwitting employees. By educating your employees about your expectations, you are empowering them to make good decisions and to act in the best interest of the company. You’re also showing them that discussing work on social media is not something that should be feared, but something that should be embraced and utilized to full advantage.
3. Appoint community managers – If your company is active on social media, it might be wise to appoint a community manager that is in charge of how your brand presents itself online. A community manager is responsible for managing a company’s presence on social channels – they’re the social voice of a brand. They’re responsible for curating and sharing content, engaging and cultivating relationships with clients, and creating and managing social media strategies for the company.
A community manager’s job is two-fold; they become their company’s resident social media expert and they also act as a buffer between employees and the rest of the online world. In addition to managing a brand’s social media presence, a community manager can also curate content for coworkers so that any brand-related communication is first monitored and approved. Using a social marketing platform like VoiceStorm makes managing social content by a community manager easy and convenient. So appoint a community manager – whether it’s a newly created position or you designate someone internally, having a community manager can make your company’s social media efforts a lot less scary and a lot more streamlined and effective.
Social media is here to stay. In fact, it will probably become bigger and more powerful in the near future. Make sure your company is ahead of the social curve and implement these best practices to protect not only your company and employees, but also your brand.