Experts in social media marketing such as Jeff Bullas and Jeane Meister insist on the importance of a proper social media policy for a company. Social media policies are tightly related to social media and the use they are given in the work enviroment. Just as social media can have a great positive impact on the company, they can also affect negatively the image of the entity when the shared content is inappropriate. This problem can be especially serious for big companies where hundred of employees work, for which it is nearly impossible to control what they individually do in terms of information sharing. How can this issue be solved?
A social media policy or a networking policy is the code of conduct that companies usually establish for their employees to follow when posting content on the Internet, either professionally or privately. The ultimate goal of these guidelines is to ensure that workers don’t compromise the image of the company or bring legal unwanted consequences. Social media policies differ a lot between companies, but can usually be defined in reference to two extremes. This means that, in most of the cases, companies decide either being flexible and establishing casual norms or remaining strict by establishing a clear media policy.
It is much more effective to offer social media training programs that encourage employers to use new technology for team-building and for collaborating across geographies, while making clear what the appropriate limits are to that use. Jeanne Meister
Strict media policies allow only a few of the cast members to contribute to the companies media content. These members must provide a disclaimer every time they write about the company, and are not allowed to include any brand logos in their posts. In fact, they are not allowed to use social media from the workplace at all, and when using social media they can only engage in work related conversations. Oracle´s social media policy is an example of what strict social media guidelines would be, as it obliges workers to clarify that all opinions given are their owns, and have nothing to do with Oracle.
Flexible media policies, on the other hand, are much less strict and often allow a more free participation of the employee. These guidelines have as the general rule to use the common sense when deciding what to post online. Naturally company’s confidential information cannot be shared, and norms of courtesy must be followed. It is essential being honest about oneself and respecting other people’s privacy, which means not posting foreign content without permission. In this spirit is founded Ford’s policy, whose main principles are: using common sense, bewaring of privacy and playing nice.
A successful social media policy will allow your employees to spread content and opinions through social media and assist in the overall marketing efforts of your company while understanding what is not acceptable to post based off the company’s policy. Jeff Bullas
All in all, both extremes have their negative sides. While strict policies keep employees from writing freely and being imaginative, flexible policies can run higher risks of getting the company in trouble. Which is the solution then? As it happens in most of the cases, the ideal election would be a balanced combination of both. It would be advisable to take those strict rules that prevent the company from having problems, and those flexible rules that encourage the imagination and creativity of workers. If your thinking about creating a social media policy for your own company, these recommendations would be a good foundation to start with.
- Bullas, J. (2013, October 22). What is the Right Social Media Policy for Your Company? Retrieved from: http://www.jeffbullas.com/2013/10/22/what-is-the-right-social-media-policy-for-your-company/
- Cohen, H. (11, February 16). How to create social media guidelines. Retrieved from: http://heidicohen.com/create-social-media-guidelines/
- Eridon, C. (2001, December 14). 5 Noteworthy Examples of Corporate Social Media Policies. Retrieved from: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/29441/5-Noteworthy-Examples-of-Corporate-Social-Media-Policies.aspx
- Lauby, S. (2009, July 2). 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2009/06/02/social-media-policy-musts/
- Meister, Jeanne. (2013, July 2). To Do: Update Company’s Social Media Policy ASAP. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2013/02/07/to-do-update-companys-social-media-policy-asap/