Avoid a Social Media Crisis

Before you engage in social media, protect yourself and your employees
by Hannah Tighe
5/7/2014

Employees can be tremendous brand ambassadors and help you spread your company's reach and exposure online, but before allowing employees to engage in social media it is a good practice to create a social media policy to protect yourself and your employees. 

Here are eight best practices to consider when creating your corporate policy: 
(Disclaimer: Before implementing yout policy, you should always consult a lawyer.)

  1. What is the purpose and the goal? Explain the reasoning why you are participating in social media and give employees the option to participate. This is a great opportunity to explain your vision of how you want to represent your company online. Keep in mind, you cannot make employees participate or use their personal accounts to further the companies' goals, but make sure to give them the opportunity and the right tools and training if they would like to be part of the effort. Outline the authorized activities you would like them to engage in.
  2. Develop a Consumer Facing social media policy for dealing with abusive or inappropriate postings from your followers that is displayed prominently on your website or social media channels, so you can quickly and efficiently deal with offensive or negative posts.
  3. Stress transparency. When participating on social media on behalf of the company, the employee should identify themselves as an employee of your firm, and explain their role, if they have a vested interest in the conversation, etc. Also, make sure bloggers disclose if they received free products or compensation to review your products or services.   
  4. Yes, confidentiality matters. It matters a lot. All company trade secrets, sensitive company or customer information is kept under wraps and not disclosed. Also, if there are any compliance issues, make sure to address them as well. Explain procedure for verifying and approving information before it is posted. Some things that should be covered are photos, videos, etc.
  5. Be respectful of copyrights. Always give attribution for other users' work and check copyright licensing information before posting.  
  6. Etiquette is critical in social media. Discuss respectful behavior for interaction and engagement online in regards to competitors, vendors, additional employees, customers, potential clients and the public in general. Some things to cover here may be expected behavior and guideline when talking about a competitor, how to deal with a negative comment, and what topics you would like employees to lend their expertise on, as well as how posting in regards to the company ties back to company voice, mission, customer service, privacy and legal policies, etc. Some of these things are common sense, but the more you spell out guidelines, the easier it will be for your employees to understand your expectations.
  7. Have a crisis procedure in place. A senior person in the company should be handling any sort of negative information. Things can quickly escalate if employees are commenting on a "sensitive" situation, so it is a good idea to decide on a procedure before something like this becomes an issue.
  8. Procedural approval before posting, including who is in charge of approving content and who should be in charge of dealing with an escalating situation.
For more information, and some great examples of social media corporate policies, click here