Every organization in every industry needs to have a social media policy in place so employees understand what is and is not appropriate to post on social media.For companies, when employees have a large digital presence and are active on social media, it gives your organization a huge marketing advantage. Employees active on social media, and promoting your brand or products, is free marketing, and it can have a profound impact when done correctly. This is why restricting employees, or not communicating with them what’s ok to do on social media, is not the right course of action. Many of your employees are willing and eager to share - give them the proper guardrails.
When representing a company of course employees want to avoid posting anything that would make the company look bad. For example, the stakes are high for regulated companies who could face serious penalties if they’re in violation of sharing any information they shouldn’t.
Due to the warranted concern over this, many companies heavily restrict what employees are allowed to do on social media, sometimes disallowing from sharing anything company-related at all. While this might avoid any public relations crisis or compliance violations from an employee’s post, this is not the ideal scenario.
You want to empower employees to grow their social media presence in order to grow yours, but restricting them too much over concerns of what could go wrong won't allow them to help you.
By restricting people in your company from being active on social media, you lose any marketing opportunities from employee advocacy.
Brand messages are re-shared 24x more frequently when posted by employees, and the reach of a brand’s message is more than 5x further when shared by employees vs. the same message shared by a brand account, according to the MSLGroup.
That is a huge marketing opportunity you’ll miss out on just because you’re worried about your employees saying the wrong thing. You should leverage your employees on social media. Don’t be too concerned with what they’ll do wrong. You hired them for a reason. Trust their decision-making and that they know what they’re doing. Let them be themselves on social media, but communicate to them what is, and is not, acceptable.
In order to minimize mistakes and incidents you want to avoid, take the approach of making sure everyone in your company is on the same page when it comes to social media, rather than restricting people. If everyone knows the expectations, then everyone will know what they can and cannot say, share, or post.
That way they’ll have a comfort level of knowing what they can and cannot do to the point that they’ll be active on social media without having any worry that they might do something wrong.
It’s important to have a social media policy that embraces your employees' activity.
Social media policies allow employees to be themselves, post about your brand, the industry you’re in, alongside anything they’d normally post about in their lives outside of work. A strong social media presence is about being authentic and relatable, so you need to let your employees be free to act how they normally would while disallowing anything that could make your brand look bad.
The trouble is, not only do many companies have a policy that is very restrictive on social media but even more companies don’t have any sort of policy at all. According to a Pew Research Center survey of over 2,000 people, 63% of respondents said their employer does not have a policy on how they can present themselves online.
Of course, this does not mean anything goes and employees can say whatever they want. What tends to happen is employees worry about putting their organization in a bad light or get in trouble for doing so, so they don’t participate in social media at all. That’s not ideal.
What’s also not ideal is putting together a social media policy you’re happy with and never touching it again. You need to revisit your social media policy periodically. It should not be a one-and-done action. Your policy should always match your modern-day strategy and environment.
It’s not that these people aren’t active on social media because they’re over-restricted. These people aren’t active because they’re worried about making a mistake. Many of your employees want to promote your brand but they just don’t know what the rules are. It’s on you to train them and communicate what’s appropriate and what isn’t.
You don’t want your employees to misrepresent your brand, but you do want them to be active on social media, promote your brand, and expand its reach. A strong social media policy that embraces your employees will allow you to train and communicate to them what’s ok and what’s not ok so they’ll be much more comfortable being active on social media.
If it’s been a while since you have updated your social media policy, or perhaps you do not have one at all, feel free to use our template. Just keep in mind, we’re not your lawyer (and we don’t play one on T.V.), so use this as a template but have your own counsel review it before distributing to employees.
Ramin Edmond is the former Content Strategist for GaggleAMP. Outside of work, Ramin likes to run, hike, and take pictures of Boston's best views. You can get in touch with Ramin by connecting with him on LinkedIn.
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