Tag Archives: social media policy

Social Media Policy Guidelines

26 Aug

Two weeks ago, I drafted a social media policy for a client, and in the next week, two more clients were asking about establishing policies of their own. Something’s happening here.  A recent article in the StarTribune here in the Twin Cities put a spotlight on the issue, citing a survey that indicated that while few companies have social media policies, nearly all are concerned about the impact of employee use of social networks on corporate reputation.

My own experience shows two converging issues. On one hand, companies see opportunity. For my startup client, there’s no reason that every employee couldn’t tell their own networks about the work of this new online business … but the company has an interest in protecting its own reputation and employees have to decide for themselves.

On the other side is concern with reputation, as well as workplace productivity. Vince Giorgi posted a terrific summary of the concerns that lead many companies to filter out social networking sites and monitor employees’ online activity.  Giorgi cites analysis by Nucleus Research indicating that “Companies that let employees access Facebook during
work hours can expect to see total office productivity decline by an average of 1.5 percent.”

I guess it depends on what you mean by productivity.  My take is that the work of the company is not simply just the work of the company.  Employees are ambassadors of the business, and when they are happy and well treated at work, it shows in the way they do their jobs, the service they deliver, the kind of talent they attract, and yes, in productivity as well. When they’re treated as grown-ups, given guidelines and largely trusted to do their jobs and do them well, good employees will do so.  Giorgi followed up his earlier post to cite a survey of human resources executives, noting a recognition of these benefits, along with reasonable “angst”.

In my view, the goal of social media policy is to reconcile the reality of the new ways people communicate personally and professionally, the associated risks and the potential opportunities.  Policy guidelines should, a minimum:

  • Remind employees to act professionally online, to protect their own reputations and that of the company.
  • Provide reasonable restrictions to protect the company, such as not revealing confidential information, disparaging the company, employees or management, etc.
  • Encourage participation in professional networks appropriate to their role in the business.
  • Encourage authenticity and honesty in all online activity.
  • Never coerce employees into participating in company promotions through personal networks.
  • Guide employees toward better understanding, generally, of what these networks are and how people are using them personally and professionally, so that they can better interact in the online world.

What would you add?

For more information, check out:

Altimeter Group — Social Media Policy Links

Help a PR Agency Update their Social Media Policy

Bigger List of Social Media Policies from Social Media Governance

Measurable Social Strategies for Corporate Communications – Part 4

6 Aug

Here’s the fourth of this week’s ideas for measurable online social engagement strategies.  I’ll collect these into a single post for easy viewing tomorrow.

In many ways, I think this is the most important idea of them all.

Idea 4: Empower Employees…and manage them.

Employees are consumers. Employees are people. Employees have networks both professional and personal. And you never know when that will help … or hurt … your corporate goals. Employees engaged online — through blogs, private forums, social networks like Facebook or Twitter, or industry forums — are ambassodors of the brand. They are problem solvers. They are recruisters. They are sharers of the promotions you want to “go viral”.

The Knowledge@Wharton blog offers some great case studies in a recent post — Del Monte Pet Foods chats with consumers about problems and ideas to shape new products. HP has 50 bloggers engaged in product communities every day.  E&Y uses Facebook for recruiting.  As Joe Kraus of Google is quoted in that post:

“What all organizations need to prepare for, said Kraus, is a completely social web, where “your users will simply expect to be part of the conversation.”

What communications needs to provide is policy that guides engagement but does not constrict.  Or, to put it another way, to encourage employees who want to help the company, while offering reasonable advice on how to do so without hurting the company, or their own livelihood.  Charline Li offers an informative listing of corporate policies that are great examples of how very different companies come at the challenges and opportunities of online social engagement.  Worth a read…and a whole new post that I’ll save for next time.

Measure by improved search engine positioning, increased media attention, greater website traffic and sales leads.

Further reading:

Idea 1: Doing better PR

Idea 2:  Geting in front of…and catching up to competitors

Idea 3: Being ready for the crisis.

Contact me to work with your company.

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