Wondering whether your employees would be any help on social media?
Every business has a customer policy that states what to do in a specific situation. But this policy document doesn’t work for social media. A social media policy for workplace is different. It comprises of dos-don’ts and a clear pointers on what employees can or cannot do on web.
You simply can’t pick your employees to speak on behalf of the company and order others to keep mum especially when the social media is just a click away and all the employees are accessible on social media.
Why does your Business need a Social Media Policy?
Social media is the most happening and the most uncertain places on the web. It is a platform (for simplicity sake let’s call it trend) that is moving at a lightning speed with trends changing the way we work.
In this situation, it becomes mandatory to make a structured social media policy for employees that gives clear instructions to staff members authorized to and willing to speak on behalf of businesses.
In addition, gone are the days when companies could have a restricted access on internet in offices by implementing their intranet policies. Today, social media and internet is available t everyone on phone.
All it takes is a Tweet from one of your employees complaining about the bad coffee or stinking toilets to adversely impact your brand name of social media.
Every one of your company’s workforce is a social media expert 😊 with little or no training to handle social media.
One of the biggest challenges faced by companies today is the time employees spend accessing social media during office hours. Thereby, adversely impacting their productivity.
Unfortunately, social media is not an addiction that is easy to give up. As per a study by pew internet, 40% of social media users in USA agree to the fact that it is very difficult for them to give us social media.
51% of facebook users access facebook several times in a day. (source : http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/)
Now, most of these social media addicts carry their addiction to office.
Businesses cannot take their social media policies lightly.
How have big businesses handled their Social Media Policy?
Case study: Walmart the retail giant as a proactive approach on social media for its customers. It has an official social media team to communicate, interact and engage customers on social media.
Walmart wants to avoid conflicting statements by employees and misunderstanding that arises when employees talk business freely on social media.
You can adopt a more relaxed approach towards the use of social networks by your employees. But it depends on the social media knowledge and experience of your workers.
The Walmart case shows that there can’t be a social media policy that works for every business. If you want to utilize the social media knowledge and experience of your employees, you need making a formal policy that helps your business in the long run.
Here’re some tips for making a social media policy for workplace:
1# Choose who can speak for your business:
Plainly speaking, you cannot have all your employees representing your business’s voice on social media.
The situation gets really messy when all the passionate employees start speaking without knowing what others are saying.
To avoid the confusion, you can follow the Walmart model where there are designated employees to answer queries/grievances/feedback posted with reference to you brand on social media/
This will give you peace and will put your fear of employees giving different answers to similar queries to rest.
On the other hand – if you are a small company or a startup with less than 15 employees, allowing employees to interact freely with customers and provide detailed, timely and accurate responses to queries is not a bad idea.
All you need is a list of SOPs and trainings to help the team handle social media.
There are many companies that are successfully managing their social media communication with the help of trained employees.
2# Write guidelines for business and personal conduct on social media
Whether you choose employees for social media or allow all the staff members to interact with social media customers, you need formulating detailed guidelines separating business communication from personal conduct on social networks.
The objective of writing guidelines is to help employees adopt a consistent line of communication instead of speaking in different tones.
But formulating guidelines won’t be a cakewalk as you need brainstorming all possible situations your employees might confront during their social media interaction with customers.
It is like anticipating reactions and preparing employees to deal with unhappy customers.
A disagreement is inevitable and if your employees aren’t prepared to handle conflicts with customers, they will jump into the conversation and make it worse.
There should be clear directions on how to handle a situation that can escalate into a conflict.
- Employees should keep in mind that they are speaking on behalf of your business. They’re representing the business on social media hence they should avoid taking the communication personal. IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines is a good example to study and follow.
- Every conflicting situation should be first reported to you so that it can be resolved at your level. It is better than doing damage control when the situation goes out of control.
There should be more dos than don’ts
It is easier to list don’ts than dos but having many don’ts would only put restrictions on your employees. It could result in resentment among the loyal employees who really want to help your business in social media.
Instead of thinking about don’ts, you should think about what your employees could do to improve customer experience.
One of the best Case studies which comes to my mind where companies have used their employees to improve customer satisfaction is of from.
Ford motor has detailed Digital Participation Guidelines for its employee. The employees are provided two resources with different links. The first one is related to dealers and second is for customer feedback about the company.
The employees share links with customers according to queries. Customers with questions related to repair are provided first resources and clients with ideas for Ford are asked to visit the second resource.
The Ford policy ensures that the employees take right action according to customer queries and that the customers remain happy with client service. Also, this policy boosts the confidence of employees.
Monitoring of personal accounts
Your employees would represent your business wherever they go, whatever they do and whoever they meet especially on social media.
They can adhere to the guidelines regarding business communication on your official social media profile but they could become loose talkers on their personal profiles.
To ensure your employees don’t do anything that could harm your business brand and communication, you should include personal conduct in the policy document.
There are some basic things that your employees can do while using their personal profiles.
- Adhering to the law especially copyright act
- Checking facts before sharing
- Verify source of information before approving
The employees shouldn’t have any objection to yours outlining personal conduct guidelines. It is for the betterment of the company and their career in the long run.
3# Protect sensitive information
Protecting sensitive business information is your responsibility and you should do everything you could to protect the sensitive information from becoming public.
There should be clear guidelines on what should be talked about. It is necessary as some people are used to of sharing everything they do and experience in their daily life on social media. This loose talking could be detrimental to your business interests.
A structured pattern would work for protecting sensitive information. When employees who to talk about, they won’t do loose talk.
You should create authority centers to channelize information so that it doesn’t become public without coming into your knowledge.
There is a thin line dividing what you call as taking a leisurely break during work hours or spending time (read : wasting) on social media accessing stuff that has absolutely no link to your work.
Obviously, accessing Fb every 20 minutes is not taking a break – it falls under the category of wasting time.
Social Media has bought forth a new set of challenges for businesses today and the sooner they address it, the better it is for them.
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