If your company has a presence on social media, guidelines for what your employees post will help reduce the likelihood of a legal or public relations nightmare occurring. Having a plan in place will ensure employees know what is and is not acceptable behavior when using sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Your social media guidelines should spell out how you expect your employees to behave. Consider providing solid examples to illustrate what you mean.
Here are 10 points every company should address:
- Social media goals. Establish a reason for your company’s presence on social media. Do you want to spread the word about your pest management services, engage with customers and potential customers, or obtain customer feedback? A goal will help you determine how you want your employees to represent your company.
- Social media mavens. Decide whether you want one person from your company to post on all social media platforms, or several to split this task. Consider appointing a responsible and trusted employee who knows the company’s brand well and can intelligently convey its messaging.
- Spokesperson in times of crisis. Appoint an employee to be the sole spokesperson in the event of any crisis that affects your company. Make it clear to employees that they are not to comment during this time other than to refer all inquiries to the spokesperson. The idea is to reduce the likelihood of conflicting or incorrect information.
- Acceptable content. Think about the information you want to keep confidential, such as financial records, client lists and impending promotions. Let your employees know what is and isn’t fair game.
- Unacceptable content. When crafting your guidelines, be as specific as possible. You may think it’s unnecessary to explain the meaning of “unacceptable,” but it’s best to provide clear examples. Obscene language, discussions of politics and religion, and racist or sexist remarks are just a few bad behaviors.
- Professional presence. Although social media is meant to be informal, remind employees they are representing your company. Correct spelling and proper grammar are a must.
- Think before you post. Stress the need to maintain your company’s professional reputation. Remember: The content your employees post will remain online forever.
- Legal issues. Follow copyright laws and fair use policies regarding content and photos from other sources your employees may post.
- Identification. Require employees to be upfront about whom they work for when responding to comments about your company in chat rooms, on message boards and in posts.
- Ramifications. What will you do if an employee does not follow your guidelines? Clearly state the consequences and take action if necessary.
There’s no denying the appeal and popularity of social media, so distribute your guidelines to all employees — not just those whose job it is to be the company mouthpiece.
You can reach PMP Managing Editor Diane Sofranec at email@example.com or 216-706-3793.