Should Your Company Have A Social Media Policy?
What is a social media policy? A social media policy is defined as a corporate code of conduct that provides guidelines for employees who post content on the Internet either as part of their job or as a private person.
What is the goal of a social media policy? Well, the goal is to set certain expectations for appropriate behavior and ensure that an employee’s posts will not expose the company to legal problems, public embarrassment, or any sensitive information. This is to protect the image of the company and to make sure all employees are representing the company well.
Most social media policies include restrictions on acknowledging confidential or proprietary business secrets. Some of these social media policies could be as long as ten pages with very specific rules; stating that employees cannot use their enterprise account passwords for social networking sites for example. Other social media policies can be very vague. For example, the Twitter policy for the shoe website Zappos says, “Be real and use your best judgement”.
One of the challenges of creating a social media policy is that many companies do not know how to best organize a good social policy and they want to ensure that their employees are actually going to read it and take it seriously.
Social Media Policies in the Workplace
Do you remember a couple of years ago when Apple launched their new emojis? These included different skin toned emojis to better represent human diversity. It seems that Clorox missed the message on this attempt when the update was released.
Clorox tweeted a picture captioning “New emojis are alright but where’s the bleach.” The pictures were composed of various emojis to form a Clorox bleach bottle. Most of the opinions expressed on Twitter were not too positive. While Clorox did not think of anything of this seemingly harmless tweet, it set off a war on Twitter. The tweet had come off as racist as people were under the impression that Clorox preferred that all the emojis to be white and the way to accomplish that was to bleach all the dark-skinned emojis.
Of course, this wasn’t the only brand to have some run ins with social media and everyone on it. Some companies that have encountered social media mishaps include Home Depot, Kenneth Cole, H&M, and DiGiorno Pizza. These mishaps are prime examples of why most companies have or need a social media policy. A social media policy is important for companies to have to achieve these three things:
· Increase employee advocacy
· Set clear expectations to reduce confusion
· Protect brand reputation
Social media policies are not just used to make sure your employees don’t screw up. They are also used to encourage your team to be more involved with social media. Having clear and concise guidelines will eliminate confusion as to what an employee can and cannot do on social media and they will feel more motivated to participate.
Examples of Social Media Policies
Best Buy Social Media Policy– Best Buys social media policy is summed up with the simple phrase “Protect the brand. Protect yourself.” Best Buys policy is set into two main parts: what you should do and what you should not do. Part of Best Buys policy is as stated: “Remember, your responsibility to Best Buy doesn’t end when you are off the clock. For that reason, this policy applies to both company sponsored social media and personal use as it relates to Best Buy.”
Best Buy also address hateful comments very respectfully. People can get pretty nasty in the comments abusing their First Amendment right of freedom of speech by thinking they can say whatever they want whenever they want and without any consequences. Best Buy does a pretty good job with setting expectations for its employees.
“Honor our differences; Live the values. Best Buy will not tolerate discrimination (including age, sex, race, color, creed, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, citizenships, disability, or marital status or any other legally recognized protected basis under federal, state, or local laws, regulations, or ordinances” This excerpt is from Best Buy’s social media policy explaining to their employees that they should not participate in any bad mouthing and if they were, repercussions will follow.
Coca-Cola’s Social Media Policy – Coca-Cola’s social media policy is one of the best written policies out there. Coca-Cola has certain commitments concerning how they interact with the public and each other, and these commitments pertain to interactions that happen on social media platforms.
It states clear guidelines for three specific groups of people. These groups include the online community, company and agency associates, and company online spokespeople. Each group has a set of points of what the company expects from its employees.
Coca-Cola has five commitments they expect from their employees, company associates, vendors and suppliers. These commitments are as follows:
1. Coca-Cola will be transparent in every social media engagement.
2. Coca-Cola will respect copyrights, trademarks, rights of publicity, and other third-part rights.
3. Coca-Cola will protect our consumers privacy in compliance with applicable Privacy Policies, IT Security Policies, and laws, rules, and regulations.
4. Coca-Cola will be responsible in our use of technology and will not knowingly align our Company with any organizations or Web sites that are excessive tracking software, adware, malware, or spyware.
5. Coca-Cola will reasonably monitor our behavior in the social media space, establish appropriate protocols for establishing our social media presence, and keep appropriate records of our participation as dictated by law and/or industry best practices.
Nordstrom’s Social Media Policy
Nordstrom’s social media policy is similar to Coca-Cola and Best Buys policy. One part of Nordstrom’s policy that is different is the conflict of interest. Nordstrom tells their employees to avoid conflicts of interest and parts of the policy are as followed:
· A conflict of interest exists if you have an interest outside of your work at Nordstrom that interferes with your responsibilities or may affect your judgment on behalf of Nordstrom.
· Blogging, posting or chatting about product or fashion related to a direct competitor could be considered a conflict of interest.
· If you have any questions, please see your manager or Human Resources. Conflict of interest is also outlined in the full Code of Conduct available on mynordstrom.com.
One of the questionable concerns posted on EveryoneSocial.com is that although they think it is good that Nordstrom employees can go to human resources if they have any further questions, it could be useful to have a little more detail on that policy. They also made a point to say that the phrase “could be considered” is too abstract and could be a little clearer for the employees.
Why Should your company have a social media policy?
Have we convinced you to get a social media policy yet? If not, here are some more reasons why you should have a social media policy.
1. Protect your organizations reputation: A good social media policy would spell out what is and what is not appropriate for employees to post about their company on social networks. The policy will generally state that employees should not write anything they would not want splashed across the public media or anything that would put the company at risk.
2. Explain the new workplace reality: Most employees consider their personal and professional lives to be separate, but social media has effectively erased that distinction. No matter how much you try to not associate your work life with your personal life, someone will somehow tie you to your work. This is important because you should be careful what you post on your personal social media accounts because someone knows where you work and will look at you and think of that company.
3. Educate and train employees: You can educate employees on what good social media can do for your organization as well as the bad. While educating your employees, use real life examples to show them what will happens when people do not follow the rules or do not use their common sense. This is something that will get them to think before they click.
4. Outline what is considered confidential or private information: employees appreciate having clear and concise basic guidelines about what the organization considers public information about its business and its employees. Advise employees of the consequences for sharing company secrets on social media.
5. Discuss the proper way to engage with others online:This part of the policy states and reminds employees that they should be agreeable and polite on social media. They should identify themselves professional as they are a representation of the company. If they were to disagree with somebody, they should go ahead and agree to disagree with others on social media because disagreements can quickly go viral.
How Do You Write A Social Media Policy?
Now that we have learned all the important stuff about why you should have a social media policy and some examples, how do you write a social media policy?
Having writers block trying to compose a policy? Check out this blog on how to overcome writers block.
Everyone has their specific roles and job duties they attend to like who is going to run each social media account and who will do a certain responsibility on a weekly or daily basis.
Here are some key responsibilities that are typically included in a social media policy:
· Strategy and planning
· Daily posting and engagement
· Daily customer service
· Security and passwords
· Monitoring and Listening
· Crisis response
· Social media training for other employees
You should make a plan of action in case of a security or public relations crisis. Your policy should include an emergency contact list that is up to date with specific roles, including your legal and public relations experts.
Establishing security protocols is also a good section to have in your social media policy with there being a lot of social media security risks out there. Identify these securities and explain to your team on how to deal with them. Some common questions that go along with this section of a social media policy are “is your organizational software updated regularly” “how often do your account passwords get changed” and “who maintains these passwords and who has access to them.”
Provide a set of guidelines on how employees should behave on their personal social media accounts. Posting hateful things like threats of violence, harassment, or hate speech are good examples of things you should not be posting on your personal social media as these things can potentially violate the law or your businesses code of ethics. Posting this type of content can also damage your company reputation. All employees of a company should be aware that they will be held responsible for anything they post on social media, good or bad.
Sometimes coworkers will search your personal account on social media just to find out more about the person they are working with. They will more than likely find some information on social media that lowers their opinion on that person so be sure to be on your best behavior while on social media! Have appropriate profile photos on all your social channels and proper contact information in case someone needs to reach you personally.
The list is endless on why you should have a social media policy and how to write one. Devise your own social media policy for your employees and make sure that you clearly outline all your expectations of how your employees represent themselves online.
Check out this blog on advantages of social media for your business!
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Social Media Intern