The importance of social media policy
The other day I talked with a connection who had an employee who pre-emptively created a Facebook Fan page for the organization. The organization had decided to look into social media and see how they could incorporate it into their activities, but they weren’t ready to actually do anything with social media, so they were really surprised when they found that they had a fan page. The employee had decided to pre-emptively set up a Fan page without telling anyone. The rest of the organization only heard about it, when people outside of it asked them about it.
In this case, its clear that the employee’s intentions were well meant, but nonetheless a situation was created where some people felt their authority was undercut by the actions of the person. Now the organization feels pushed to go into social media, which is not not the ideal way to get involved.
This is just one scenario. In another case, a business may have employees who complain about their work or specific clients, or even upper management on their Facebook or twitter accounts. How the business will deal with that kind of situation depends on what’s said, but the reality is that while social media connects all of us to each other moreso than ever before, it also allows use to see the dirty laundry of other people and those people will respond to do what they can to cover it up.
My advice for any business or organization is to figure out what your social media policy is for how employees represent the business online, as well as what steps they can take to set up social media accounts for the business. Here’s a couple questions to ask:
Who has the authority to set up a social media account?
What content should go out to social media sites?
Is the message on social media congruent with the corporate message?
How should employees be dealt with if they talk bad about the company or a client?
What are reasonable guidelines for employees that help them understand what the company would prefer they not talk about?
What happens when an employee raises a legitimate concern about the company via social media?
How should customer service be integrated into social media?
These are just a few questions to consider with social media policy, but they are a good start and can help a business get social media under control, at least in terms of how the business will use it.