Unlike traditional media, everything on social media happens at lightning speed. Users on social media platform demand full transparency on the issue on hand, subsequent dialogue and conversations after the issuance of the official delivery statement or message are equally or even more important than the latter.
There is also a need for organizations to understand that previous brand ambassadors can turn into brand detractors (negative influencers of staff brand) within days and they have the exact same tool of communications.
There is hence the need for corporations to create a social media policy to monitor possible crisis before it occur; prepare appropriate steps to manage or mitigate the damage as well as to response quickly and appropriately both for official statements and subsequent dialogues.
Depending on the severity of the identified & analysed potential crisis, the issue will be highlighted to the appropriate department or the Company’s Senior Management for their response.
Social Media Policy Content
My proposed Social Media Policy seek to provide the Company’s social media marketers & staff with guidelines to monitor, prepare and response to potential crisis arising from social media platforms. The policy will be divided into 3 main components:
1. Internal Social Media Policy
2. External Social Media Policy
3. Blog Policy
1. Internal Social Media Policy
The lines between work and personal life can become blurred. In general, what a staff do on their own time is a personal decision. However, activities in or outside of work that affect staff job performance, the performance of others, or the company’s business interests are a proper focus for the internal social media policy.
As technology tools enable an easy exchange with other professionals, authorised representatives and the general public, we encourage staff to share their personal thoughts and feelings with regards to their work at the Company. Staff can do so without first asking permission provided they read and follow the advice contained in this document.
Matter of Trust
Being able to share the Company’s activities without prior management approval means the Company trusts staff to understand that by doing so staff are accepting a higher level of risk for greater rewards. Each staff member is personally responsible for the content he or she publishes on any form of social media. Staff should be thoughtful about how they presents themselves in online social networks.
Staff may have identified themselves as staff member or the Company as their employer, either directly or as part of a user profile. If so, staff needs to ensure that their profile and related content is consistent with how they wish to present themselves to the other staff members and constituents, their business contacts, colleagues and peers.
Senior staffs of the Company have special responsibility with their internet presence by virtue of their high profile position within the Company, even if they do not explicitly identify themselves as being affiliated with the Company. Such senior level staff should assume that his or her posts will be seen and read by the Company members, colleagues and reports, and that they will presumptively associate such posts with the Company.
Trust should be an essential ingredient in the constructive culture that Companies should strive to achieve. Hence staffs need to be aware of the guidelines and advice to help them better balance the risk vs. reward ratio.
Share Information Carefully
Keep in mind that posts are visible by all with online access. It may be fine to share their work at the Company as part of their participation in the online community, etc., but staff DO NOT have permission to reveal any information that compromises the Company business policy or public positions.
By that we mean don’t share anything that is proprietary and/or confidential to the Company. For example, it is not okay to share any content that required a non-disclosure agreement or is part of a confidential management or Board discussion.
Keep in mind the following when considering whether to share the company related information:
• Use common sense. Staff should refrain from posting items that could reflect negatively on the company or otherwise embarrass the Company, including comments or other posts about drug or alcohol abuse, profanity, off-color or sexual humour, and other inappropriate conduct. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not otherwise be acceptable in the Company workplace.
• Show proper respect for people’s privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory, like politics and religion.
• Respect the law, including those laws governing defamation, discrimination, harassment, and copyright and fair use.
• Don’t use the Company logo, unless specifically authorized to do so.
• Don’t disclose the Company (or anyone else’s) confidential or other proprietary information, such as current or anticipated products, software, research, inventions, processes, techniques, designs, or other technical data. Get permission from the owner prior to sharing or publishing their intellectual property. Ask permission to publish or report on meetings or conversations that are meant to be internal to the Company.
• Don’t reference other staff, members, partners or vendors of the Company without their approval.
• If staff publish content to any website outside of the company and it has something to do with work staff do or subjects associated with the Company, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent the Company positions, strategies, or opinions.” If what staff are publishing is, in fact, the company official business, be sure that that staff are authorized to make such statements on behalf of the Company. If there is any doubt, check with their respective supervisor.
• Ensure that their social networking conduct is consistent with the all policies contained in the Company Employee Handbook.
• Make sure that their online activities do not interfere with their job performance.
• Respecting differences, appreciating the diversity of opinions and speaking or conducting themselves in a professional manner is expected at all times. If staff are not completely confident about what they intend to share, they should seek management input before any posting.
Understand Staff Represent the Company
As in all interactions whether in the built or virtual environment, staff are a representative of the Company. As a representative of the Company, their positions must be in-line with the Company policies and positions.
Creative Writing Is Encouraged
Cogent, interesting writing requires an investment of time, even when staff knows a lot about the subject. Chances are such deep knowledge will make their comments more interesting to read, and, by Web standards, their writings could become popular, if only to others who share the particular interest.
But, unless staff limits their postings to fact-only reports, staff may choose to reveal more of their personality as a way to build reader interest. Almost everyone posting to online communities writes about themselves, their interests, experiences, and social interactions. People like to know these additional details about staff as a way to develop a greater appreciation of their point of view. But, the Web is a public venue and staff should be careful not to embarrass themselves, the Company, and other members of the online community.
Good Writing Basics
The value of a staff great idea suffers to the extent that they allow misspelled words and bad grammar. And, if staff cannot be succinct, at least be complete and accurate. If they know these are areas where they could improve, seek out advice from those for whom these are strengths. It takes time to write in a concise manner, but it is worth the effort to improve upon their first draft.
Stick to what is known
It’s another basic tenant of writing: write what staff knows personally. That way, they increase the likelihood that writing will be interesting, but, as important, they minimize the chances for damaging their credibility.
Staff may know a lot about their job function or special project, but, if they criticize some other function or decision of the Company without knowing all of the relevant background, there’s a good chance that staff will be “corrected” by the actual expert.
Be Sensitive to Authorities or Compliance Related Information
If there are stringent requirements by the Company to comply with any compliance related information, staff are responsible for understanding and observing these policies.
Part 2 & 3 of my proposed Social Media Template will be out shortly. Stay tuned.
You may also like to check out my posts on other interesting social media topics here.