Why Should You Create a Social Media Policy for Your Business?

shutterstock_249975076.jpgToday's work environment is relaxed and easy going. One reason why companies are moving in this direction is that research that has established that such a relaxed work environment increases team morale by up to 53% and performance by up to 20%. This is according to a study carried out into National Workplace Flexibility.

It is understandable that your business may be one of those adopting a relaxed outlook, however in adopting this approach you need to understand certain potential consequences that could potentially damage your business's reputation. 

Freedom and Responsibility

Allowing employees to be themselves at the workplace is great, but there still need to be boundaries. For those who run a small business you may pass on the responsibility of social media postings to one of your employees. Most (especially young) people spend a good amount of time on social media in their own time so it is understandable they may find it difficult to make a distinction between what they would post on their private accounts and on business accounts. 

Social media also needs to be taken into consideration for every employee, even if they are not running the business's accounts. What an employee posts about your business on their personal profile is also important to your business's reputation.

Is It Really Necessary to Have a Social Media Policy?

In short, yes. Without meaning to do so, employees can compromise the reputation of a brand or business by not understanding what they should or should not post. They may also change the voice and image of your business involuntarily.

If you are thinking of handing over the responsibility of social media posting to an employee, introducing a social media policy does three things;

  1. It takes the guesswork out of what employees can post about the company they work for.
  2. It also makes it clear to employees the possible consequences of what they say through these platforms, especially legal consequences.
  3. It puts everyone on the same page so they are saying the same thing about the company or brand they work for. Social media platforms can be used to promote a brand and build brand loyalty.

Structuring a Social Media Policy

A social media policy is basically a set of rules and guidelines about how employees can use the different platforms and how they can't. A good policy will cover two main areas;

- How employees can use their personal social accounts.
- How employees can use business accounts.

Broadly speaking, a policy will state that an employee will not use their personal or business accounts on these platforms to damage the reputation of the company they work for or are associated with. This means they will desist from posting insults, criticism, confidential details or other negative content to an individual or person working for another company or associated with it.

Making It Official

It is important to formalize all company policies. They should be included in the contract or terms of service agreement given to an employee. This serves two purposes. First, putting it in writing gives an employee the chance to read the policy and understand it. They know what they are agreeing to when they sign it. Secondly, it absolves a company from liability if an employee goes against the policy; an employee is held accountable rather than the company they work for.

Still Free

It is important that employees are made to understand the purpose of the policy they sign. They should understand that it is not to curtail their freedom but to ensure they understand that with freedom comes responsibility. With that settled, a company can rest easy about what their employees say on social media and even more importantly, what they won't say.

Manage Your Small Business's Online Reputation

If you have not yet considered the potential consequences social media could have for your business, now is the time. Firstly you should make employees aware through formal company policies that posting about the company on private social media accounts is not permitted. Secondly, you should consider creating guidelines for your chosen social media manager. Some businesses create lists of words to avoid, or the general tone or image they want to portray. Giving your employee this will help them better understand what to post on the business's social channels.