Facebook just surpassed Google as the most visited site on the web and your employees are on it – and Twitter, Myspace, YouTube, Linkedin, blogs and others. Virgin Atlantic, the Philadelphia Eagles, and Brixx restaurant fired employees for negative Facebook posts about the company or customers. A Georgia teacher and New England Patriots cheerleader were fired for personal behavior posted on Facebook. It’s critical to have a Social Media Policy that makes it clear what you expect from your employees online.
In fact, according to www.socialmediagovernance.com, best practice companies have two policies: one for all employees, and a more detailed one for people who deal with social media as part of their job. You need to be clear with employees about:
- What you consider to be company confidential (especially for public and regulated organizations)
- Respecting customer privacy and respecting customers in general
- Use of company logos/materials/copyright
- Honoring your corporate values (honesty, transparency, accuracy, humility)
- Being clear that while they work for your organization, the opinions they express are their own
- Understanding that the Internet is forever
Most important, a Social Media Policy isn’t just about telling employees what they shouldn’t do — it’s also about encouraging them to become advocates for your organization. Every employer has employees who are enthusiastic, positive, and passionate about their work. The last thing you want is to discourage these people from communicating that enthusiasm and knowledge. I have a Facebook friend who is a GM employee. He regularly posts links to positive GM press and information. Because of him, I know that GM is paying back one billion dollars it borrowed from the government. And, his links are always prefaced with a positive, sometimes personal statement.
Encourage your employees to share their enthusiasm about their work. Make it easy for them to repost or retweet good news about your company. Talk to your internal experts about blogging, commenting on blogs, and generally sharing their expertise in a positive way. Work with your recruiting department to collaborate with your employees LinkedIn accounts to find top talent. If you have a company blog or community, encourage employees to contribute. If you notice someone is regularly making valuable comments or helping to create buzz around your company and its products, recognize them. If someone slips up, let them know privately, quickly, and change your policy if it’s something you missed. Finally, don’t overlook someone because they don’t have a senior position – in social media, personality and expertise count more than title.
Here are a few corporate social media policies I like: Ford, Intel, Best Buy and Greteman Group. You can find them here: