The use of social media can be a valuable business tool when used as part of your overall marketing strategy. But with many of your staff maintaining personal accounts how do you ensure there is a distinction between the two and that you are being correctly portrayed in the twittersphere.
Rewind 15 years and the same issue presented itself with email use, with companies keen to define appropriate use rules. Employees found that they could use email as a way of catching up with friends and family from their desk instead of in their personal time. The result was the introduction of acceptable use statements in employment contracts and email disclaimers/footers.
However, a subtle difference exists between email and social media. Email is very much about 1:1 communication and whilst emails carry the company name, these policies were designed to address volume of usage as well as content. The policy defined email primarily as a business tool and today we all expect to see an IT or email clause in any employment contract.
Social media is different as it starts to bring opinions into play, is often run from personal devices such as mobiles and can communicate a message to thousands in seconds. The lines are further blurred when social media accounts clearly infer a link to a specific business either in the form of LinkedIn work history or where a social media handle joins the person and the company e.g. Ben@recenseo or Recenseo Ben. At this point who do those opinions belong to?
Having advised many businesses on their corporate social media strategy, this question comes up a lot and the answer is the same as 15 years ago with email – you need some form of policy. As noted above social media can be a useful tool and so any policy should avoid being onerous on the employee or stopping all use of it whatsoever. Instead it should inject clarity and deliver those clear lines of distinction between what is personal and what is work and make it clear to the employee that misuse is a serious issue.
Some key things to consider when looking at the use of social media in your business:
- If you don’t already have social media profiles – introduce them and channel the creativity
- If you have divisions, teams or disparate offices – provide them with their own profiles
- Ask employees to add ‘all opinions are my own’ to their social media profiles
- Provide approved content & logos that employees can use e.g. a LinkedIn company profile
- Ask staff to register their profiles with you so you can monitor them
- Provide clear examples of what is acceptable and what is not
- Carry out training so your staff know what to use and how to use it to maximum effect
If you want help with setting up your social media presence or creating a policy, please sonctact us for more information.