Yeah, yeah, social media is still trendy and we all wish people would stop singling it out as anything other than another tool in the customer relations and marketing toolbox. But utilizing this tool effectively is still crucial to quality customer interaction. And what better way for a business to make a royal, social media mess of things? By not having a social media policy.
I would like to make the argument that any company, however small or large, in whichever type of business it may be, needs to have a social media policy of some kind.
Now certainly a one-man business or small shop shouldn’t waste their time writing an elaborate 20 page document covering every single aspect of every possible social media platform available. But they do need to evaluate how their employees are going to conduct themselves across various platforms as representatives of the company. Even if that means a simple paragraph in the employee handbook.
What is important to understand is the scope and penetration of company related social media interaction. For example, as the marketing director, I try to weigh each item I post anywhere against how I might be perceived as a spokesman for Big Bang. Even on accounts that have no direct tie to the company, I still consciously conduct myself as if the person reading what I typed knew I worked for Big Bang and what it was all about. This is largely because I spread Big Bang information all over on a daily basis.
But what about the person who isn’t responsible for external media, like one of our software developers. Well Big Bang’s short little two-page social media policy breaks it down two ways. First, if the individual does not have their work email, work url or any other work related items tied to any of their social media accounts, then they may conduct themselves however they wish. If however, they do have information available for public consumption that indicates their affiliation with Big Bang, they need to conduct themselves accordingly.
The extent to which a company manages and enforces social media policy is typically based on the scale of effect that an individual's personal social media presence can have on the company's brand and image. For Big Bang, we simply want represent ourselves ethically and with common sense, to offer honest and transparent insight into our brand and protect its integrity. And if we make a mistake, to be honest about that as well.
For us, and what I think is the most effective way to institute social media policy, is to treat employees with the same level of respect and trust that you have in them to work hard for you every day. They already possess the level of pride in their company necessary to, with the subtle guide of a well-written social media policy, conduct themselves as brand ambassadors.
And if they don’t, then that is probably indicative of larger issues than errant tweets.