A critical component of business success lies in the communication between the employer and employee. There must be a clear explanation of job expectations, policies, and procedures. Many companies possess a Human Resources department to enforce policies and possibly legal counsel, to handle logistics rightfully, when policies backfire or damage is done. However, smaller companies are less likely to retain such back-up so it is essential to clearly communicate the rules of conduct with well-designed policies.
One vital policy to own is a social media policy. Employees have easy access to most, if not all, of a business’ social media platforms. They are a representative of the brand so standards and expectations of professional conduct should be an “unwritten” rule. That being said, there is no room for assumptions. Companies can best protect themselves, and their customers, by putting pen to paper and creating a social media policy.
In the case of my brother’s small business, a social media policy is not a necessity. He is the employer and the employee so he makes his own rules, with a bit of feedback from me. Even the two of us need to be on the same page though, with regards to identifying our strategy to build the brand. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t benefit from utilizing an existing social media framework. There are certain rules one should not break, regardless of the business size or use of social media.
The following social media policies highlight consistent rules found in a majority of company policies. Essentially, some of these commandments apply not only to social media but are the qualities of a good employer or employee.
1. Follow copyright and fair use laws. Give credit where credit is due.
2. Respect one another. No bad-mouthing people, period. Offensive language, biases, and criticism are NOT appropriate at work or away from work.
3. No brand or content bashing. Take pride in your work. Your job is to promote the brand, be the brand, and represent the brand.
4. No disclosure of sensitive material whether that be financials, strategies, or any other confidential information.
5. No disclosure of personal information of company employees or customers.
6. Transparency. Identify yourself as an employee of the company and use disclaimers that your own opinions may not represent sentiments of the company.
7. Privacy. The employer has the right to monitor all of your social media platforms, just as a potential employer may do. Avoid publishing personal content publicly.
8. Responsibility. Own your mistakes and seek company intervention when necessary.
9. Permanence. The internet is unforgiving and there are no take-backs. The last thing you want to do is build negative brand awareness.
Social media is a very effective way to build brand awareness. However, it has the potential to cause negative propaganda if not communicated or monitored properly. Nevertheless, the benefits of using social media platforms for business-building are worth the additional effort to keep all eyes and ears open.
Images courtesy of: