Social Media and Company Policy: 5 Steps to Institute a Beneficial Social Media Policy

Social Media and Company Policy: 5 Steps to Institute a Beneficial Social Media Policy

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By: Becci Hart, President of Public Relations

Social media provides a voice to everyone.  That can be helpful or harmful depending the topic and the tone adopted. In this season of uncertainty with a contentious election, the throes of the coronavirus pandemic and civic unrest, it is like fuel to the fire for many on social media. There are many among us who post in reaction to the emotion of the moment, without second thought.

We’ve all seen the posts that make us think… “That makes me uncomfortable. They should have thought about that a bit longer before they posted.”  The inflammatory rhetoric can do more than make people uncomfortable, it can damage the reputation of the companies for whom they work. For most of us, it states clearly on our social pages where we work, therefore, making us ambassadors of that company with all we do on those pages.

How can we be certain that our employees understand the implications of their social media posts as it pertains to company image?  There are five simple rules to get you through this current unrest.

  1. Check your employee handbook to be sure your social media policy is current and clear.
    1. Does it layout what topics should be avoided and the implications for ignoring the policy?  Does every employee have a copy of the policy?  It might be a good idea to distribute your policy again to make sure it is top of mind.
  2. Educate, educate and educate some more. How best to do that?
    1. Distribute the social media policy as a reminder (mentioned in point number 1.)
    2. Remind them that while our country does enjoy the right to free speech, that means the government cannot jail you for your social media posts.  It does not protect an employee from being disciplined or fired for violation of the company’s policies.
    3. Use examples of content from anonymous sources to drive the point home.  “This type of content will result in termination of employment.” Nothing like an example to make it clear.
  3. Remind employees to be careful who they follow. We’ve seen controversies in the last several months where people have faced criticism over those they follow. The friends we keep, even online friends, can be seen as an indicator of our character.
  4. On company social channels, this might be the time to focus on your business. Company pages can come under fire as easily as personal pages. We understand that there are some topics that need to be addressed and should be addressed.  If you feel strongly about something going on in the country, then you can communicate your position. It is still important to do so with thoughtfulness and clarity about potential blowback.  Be an example to your employees of how to best address an issue without being inflammatory or divisive.
  5. Know who your company wants to be on social. Establish your tone, your personality and voice. Maintain that throughout your conversations online.

An informative and engaging social presences is possible for your company and your employees, however, it requires thoughtful and deliberate effort.