- Decide who is responsible for managing and participating in social media. It is important that all employees understand and adhere to the company’ social media policy, while networking in social media online. But, one employee or a team must assume the company’s public persona and manage company social media efforts. Vigilant to follow and respond to public commentary, praise, or complaints about the company, the employee or team has official responsibility to respond in social media. While all employees should be encouraged to interact and represent the company brand, in social media, these employees should proactively handle queries, too.
Kabani says, “The best way to find a social media advocate within the company is to seek out the person or team of people who are most passionate about communicating with customers in social media. They may already be doing so without you knowing it. Seek those people out and train them well to represent your brand.”
- Establish ground rules for employee participation in social media. You walk a fine line with employees. You need to allow employees the freedom to engage in social media, yet protect the company at the same time. Kabani suggests taking a look at Intel’s social media policy which is comprehensive. The Emerging Technology Department at the Air Force has created this flow chart of their own social media guidelines and David Meerman Scott highlights their social media strategy in his blog post. Telstra offers a simple policy, so examples do exist online.
- While your employees probably already exercise good common sense while participating online, your social media policy must specifically address examples of taboo topics. Confidential, proprietary, non-released company information must stay out of social media. Private and personal information about your work and your coworkers and customers must never appear online. The public image of your employees in social media, if they can be associated with your company, does matter. Nastiness, offensiveness, disparaging comments, untruthful statements, demeaning behavior, and illegal substance use, are all examples of behavior your social media policy must address.
- Create a system for monitoring the social media sphere. Kabani says, “A social media policy doesn’t do much good if you don’t actually monitor the space where the conversation is happening. There are plenty of free and paid tools to monitor social media.
- Make training easily available to your employees who want to participate in social media. Kabani suggests, “Think win-win. Nobody likes to be bossed around – especially when it comes to their own social networking. However, most people are open to learning about how to better leverage these social media sites to further their own careers and brands. Most people who make mistakes online just don’t know any better. If you expect your employees to utilize the social networking tools properly, you must provide training. What they put out there isn’t just a reflection of the company; it is also a reflection of them. Make it a win-win for everybody.”
Social media is expanding with millions of people worldwide interacting in ways that few dreamed possible just a short time ago. Your employees are interacting in social media. Your company should be interacting in social media, too. And, your social media policies and strategies need development now. Take the opportunity to influence the conversation that is occurring around your company and your brand.
Don’t believe for a minute that the conversation isn’t occurring. Jump on the chance to influence the direction – now.
By Susan M. Heathfield, About.com Guide