Social media is not going anywhere, and we hope your company is keeping up! Because of the nature of social media and the public’s desire to speak with a person and not an automated system, it is becoming more and more apparent that companies (big or small) need a social media policy. A social media policy or code of conduct should be in place to help protect your business and your employees.
Regardless of your reasoning, itʻs a great idea to have a social media policy in place in the event that something like what recently happened to a restaurant in the UK where a chef who had access to the restaurantʻs Twitter, proceeded to take advantage of the situation! (Read more here: http://mashable.com/2013/12/16/fired-restaurant-chef-twitter/) While it worked out to the restaurant (publicity) and the chefʻs (new job offers) advantage, we recommend having a policy in place prior to launching any kind social media campaign for your business.
Some important questions to ask yourself are: Do my employees understand the value they add to the company by interacting online with our customers? How can I engage the key employees responsible for posting, in the broader mission of the company such that their posts and responses to customers are informative as well as entertaining? Does our social media strategy present our brand in new and creative ways that speak to a variety of online generations? Should we hire an outside agency that will work with us to develop a cohesive, well-branded social presence with which we can connect with our customers?
As Lisa Kruczynzki, of Kruczynski Consulting, a digital media consulting agency, puts it:
“I think that employees should be allowed to post on the social media pages of their business, but I think the lesson here is two-fold: #1. It is important for business owners to have a social media policy that clearly states the company’s expectations for employee posting so that the overall company vision and marketing plan stay intact and #2. It is important for businesses to have a plan for managing negative publicity.”
Another great resource for businesses is this open source check-list to help companies start making a policy for social media.
The point is, social media is about engagement and being social. If your company does not have a policy in place, a good option is to hire an outside firm that can help you with not only the fun parts of social media, but the inevitable real world business implications. It is also recommended to consult with an attorney to ensure you are complying with federal, state, and local laws as they pertain to social media and employment laws.