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| September 2011
| Dear Todd,
Does your company have an effective social media policy?
Like it or not, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have become essential business tools, and you need to set clear guidelines about what your employees can--and cannot--do.
In this issue of The X-Factor, we'll show you the three specific topics your social media policy must cover.
And when you are ready to craft your own social media policy, take a look at this collection of social media policies from organizations all over the globe.
I hope you find this information useful, and if you would like to discuss any of your company policies--social media, employment, or otherwise--please shoot me an email at email@example.com, I’d be happy to meet with you.
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The Challenge: Crafting a Social Media
Policy for Your Organization
The 60-Second Solution: Here Are Three Specific Topics Your Policy Should Cover
You can't have people making up their own logos and color schemes for the company. If your marketing department has a style guide, put the relevant sections in your corporate policy document. It saves everybody a lot of headaches if social media participants can easily create an online profile with a company approved logo and color scheme. Make the resources they need available, and you'll save everybody time while helping to ensure a consistent, professional online presence.
Language and Information Standards
What terms do you use to describe your product? Are there particular industry- or work-related terms that need to be associated with the product? Are there terms you NEVER want used with your product? Spell out these types of rules. Somebody from production may have no idea that the marketing company just sent out a press release where you said the margin for error in your product was .006%, or he may know the last test results he saw were .02%. Make sure everyone has the relevant facts so they can put your best foot forward.
State clearly what standards of performance you expect. If people know the rules and what is expected from them, they are less likely to make mistakes. A little personal responsibility and some common sense go a long way. But, people's opinions about common sense and good judgment differ, so it's a good idea to give them some guidelines. Here are a few:
Your employees must also protect your company's reputation. You don't want to take yourself or the company too seriously, but employees should avoid insulting the company and their co-workers, even as a joke. They should also keep sensitive or potentially controversial work conversations private. People often forget that social media (and other forms of electronic communication) aren't private. It's like using a megaphone, and the fallout has the potential to damage your company's reputation.
- When making a comment online, employees should use their name or identity. This helps your company establish authenticity and enables you to create relationships with prospective clients. Anonymous accounts will not have the same power.
- Employees should focus on adding value to any conversation. This will help establish your company as a thought leader in your industry.
- Follow copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws. Give credit where credit is due.
- Share opinions respectfully. Employees should avoid posting anything they would not want their mother, spouse, or boss to read.
- Employees must protect your company's confidential and proprietary information. Let them know that failure to observe this may affect their employment status.
Social media, or new media, is really media. Plain and simple. Many organizations with any kind of formal structure have a policy in place for working with media. Social media is merely an extension of what you currently have in place. Writing a policy is simply a matter of letting your employees know how to communicate the company message effectively, what they should and should not do, and the consequences for violating your guidelines.
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