Digital/Online Marketing Communications Strategy

How To Create A Winning Corporate Social Media Policy

Nearly every day there’s another research report raving about how corporations are getting into social media. One study — Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risk — dares to be different.referee signaling a touchdown- image by bigstockphoto

Yes, it includes those juicy numbers that gets everyone all exercised about the speed at which social media acceptance is accelerating. But then it pokes under the covers to reveal how deep-down, many executives think social media is risky business.

The biggest fear factors concern how use of social media while on the clock diminishes productivity as well as increases an IT infrastructure’s odds of being hit with computer viruses, and that corporate reputation can be damaged based on what employees post to their personal online accounts.

The report, prepared by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law, notes that the majority of these leery leaders are apt to visit social media sites to suss out what’s being said about their business — by outsiders and staffers alike — or to check out the competition.

Source: Russell Herder/Ethos Law, Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risk, August 2009

Source: Russell Herder/Ethos Law, Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risk, August 2009

Meanwhile, only 13 percent have included social media as part of the organization’s crises communications plans.

All defense and no offense

It’s wise to be concerned about chatter a company is instigating in cyberspace. Monitoring should be ongoing, findings analyzed and replies registered when warranted.

However, to trot out a familiar sports analogy, engaging with social media strictly to see what others are doing is akin to having a defense and no offense. You’re not being proactive and are at risk of enabling the competition to succeed at your expense.

Plus, if a crisis does occur, isn’t it better to know from experience how the game is played rather than sitting on the sidelines and then trying to figure it out under pressure, on the fly?

A better game plan

You can’t play the social media game from a distance. It’s imperative to get involved to advance your goals.

Here’s where the report really shines by spelling out best practices of good corporate social media policy. These include:

Maintain a consistent attitude

Social media guidelines should reflect the general corporate culture. For example, if your credo is all about being flexible and open-minded, then continue that mindset with social media.

Set rules and be sure everyone knows what they are

Because it’s an informal means of communication social media can be an easy if accidental conduit for exposing confidential information. Ensure it’s understood that any existing regulations regarding the disclosure of proprietary information also pertain to social media.

Be clear about when players can wear uniforms

Employees have professional and personal identities. A business may not go so far as to try and regulate the personal part, but it can establish what’s in or out of bounds. If employees makes personal posts that blast a political party should they be allowed to identify their business title and the company they work for? Is it okay for employees to list their work email address when making personal comments on controversial blogs? Good policy addresses potentially contentious issues and defines what’s prohibited.

Focus on performance

Engagement with social media can impact productivity. But a total prohibition of its use during work hours is not only impossible to enforce but also onerous. It’s okay to set restrictions, such as saying employees can only post to personal sites during a lunch break. Whatever the procedure, the focus should be on job performance rather taking a hard line about “company time.”

Be transparent

Companies that spy on employee usage of social media should let it be known that they are doing so. Disciplinary actions that can result as a breach of protocol should be clearly spelled out.

Run a training camp

Guidelines are all well and good, but risks are mitigated and compliance better achieved by clearly stating the rules of the game. Create a comprehensive training plan to let everyone know the playbook.

Get in the game

The best way to succeed with social media is to be a player. Establish a scheme to meet your objectives. Then grab the ball and run with it.

– Deni Kasrel

What type of social media game plan do YOU think a company should have? Comments welcome.

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

About the Author: Deni Kasrel is seasoned (slightly spicy) specialist in digital/online communications. .

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

No Comments Yet

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Collier Ward says:

    Great overview. I am not a corporate employer, but if I were, I would be very concerned about the ever-present distraction online media would present to my staff (as mentioned above)

  2. aleyasuleman says:

    Great article! I think businesses need to be willing to be innovative and take chances with social media if they would like to build a brand for the future. I also think if you don’t let your employees participate, you are losing out because they are great brand ambassadors.

  3. Thank you for this article. Good points such as corporate blog and personal blog issues.
    The employer must see SN as a tool for employees to communicate with clients / customers. If they are unwilling to see this, SN has no value and is a missed opportunity. SN also takes time to integrate and does not happen overnight. You need to earn trust.

  4. Gayle Haugen says:

    Good foundational article. I especially appreciate “Focus on performance” and “Be transparent.” Staff are using, and will continue to use, social networking sites. Knowing the boundaries helps staff be productive while having some enjoyment in their day. (For example, how is hopping onto Facebook during your break different from stepping out to make a personal phone call?) In addition to your great thoughts, here is something that seems logical to me: there are two aspects of SN in an organization — the policy from a Human Resources perspective, and the plan from a marketing perspective. Human Resources should help the organization navigate the rules around use of SN during work time and protection of the corporate brand while using SN. Marketing needs to have a clear plan for meeting communication and marketing goals and objectives through all communication channels. As Benjamin says in his response, SN doesn’t happen overnight. My addition to that is a sound plan.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top