The social media policy has evolved considerably over the past five years, along with social media and the way it’s used. It was only a few years ago I was still writing “social media is banned” into pretty much every IT policy.
We’re pretty clear now that social media isn’t just a fad. And it’s not just a place to share what we had for breakfast. Social media has changed how we consume news and TV, it is well and truly in the professional arena with LinkedIn, Glassdoor and more. Social media provides opportunities for learning with access to industry experts whilst also enabling people and companies to share their industry expertise. Increasingly we’re seeing marketing and sales through social media.
People buy from people, it’s as true as it has ever been and now our access to people is much wider. The traditional limits of “who you know” are broken down by social media. Social media offers a powerful selling tool in both retail and business to business.
Your customers are on social media, looking for your product, talking about it or reviewing it. Your prospective employees are on there, looking at your company, looking for roles and deciding if you’re the company for them. Whether you are on social media or not people will be out there talking about you.
What does all this have to do with HR and the social media policy?
Your social media policy needs to reflect your company and what you’re doing with social media. Your employees should feel proud of the brand they work for and want to like and share your posts. Your employees can help you get your message out there with likes and shares of your posts. If this is what you want, your social media policy should reflect this.
Perhaps you’re in a professional service industry and you want your employees sharing content, showcasing expertise in their field. Again, this is something your social media policy should reflect to encourage employees and explain any parameters. If you’re wanting consistent sales messages for example ensure all employees are aware of this.
Clearly you want your social media policy to clearly state that derogatory comments about the company or its people could face disciplinary action. That said, no amount of cleverly worded social media policy is going to put a lid on a post if it’s out there. Given employees and customers can report on their experiences on social media, creating a culture where people don’t have derogatory comments to make is increasingly important.
Your employees are on social media, your competitors can find them. If they’re presenting themselves as experts in their industry with active professional posting, even if they’re not actively job hunting, prospective employers may be hunting them. The days of keeping your employees by keeping them confidential are long gone. Once again, company culture and social media go hand in hand. Your employees are out there publicly presenting themselves, make sure they have a reason to stay with you.
So, do we need a social media policy?
Back to the original question, I’ve gone around the houses a bit and talked more generally about social media and its impacts on your business. In answer to the question, absolutely yes you should have a social media policy, it should be relevant and up to date. Relevance will depend on your business, the industry you’re in, your culture, what you’re trying to achieve balanced with what you want to protect.
Your social media policy must align with your social media strategy which should consider your employees and their presence online.
Social media means so many different things to different people, understandings of the platforms and belief about what should and shouldn’t be posted varies dramatically. A social media policy is one of those that needs to be lifted off the page for people, some training or a briefing session should be used to ensure your people really do understand your social media policy and what’s expected.
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Article last updated: 15 October 2019
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