Chances are your staff members are commenting in social media about your business whether you approve or not. Do you have a social media policy as part of your job description and employment agreement documents? If not you should include one as soon as possible.
It will be too late after the fact to discipline a staff member for inappropriate comments they have shared on social media, whether it is through their own personal profiles or even worse on your own company profiles. If the breach is bad enough to warrant dismissal your position “may” be compromised if they successfully argue the absence of any guidelines to abide by.
To a lesser degree it is also about having a consistent voice and not sending confusing messages into the market place, when employees put their own spin on a topic. Whilst their opinion may not be technically incorrect, it may not be aligned with your wishes on how you want your message to be portrayed.
What should be covered?
Your “why” should be clear, often this is enough for your team members to understand your wishes and by mindful of what they say.
Any different polices between strict guidelines on your company profiles which you have full control over content, and your preferences as to what might be said on an employees personal profiles. (You should check laws in your country or state etc pertaining to how much influence you can have on employees in their non working hours)
Be clear on who can comment on specific areas of expertise. For example your customer service team would have different guidelines to your marketing team.
Give examples of what your preferred content or responses maybe. Nothing is more clear that a pre formatted tweet, post etc.
Don’t forget the smart phones! If your policies cover personal viewing of social media during work hours, it is not enough to just draft your policies in relation to company owned or supplied computers. Almost everyone will have a smart phone that can access any social media platforms. More and more platforms are making smart phone access almost as good as their desk top versions.
Be clear on who owns the accounts. If you have a team member who posts information via say a LinkedIn or Twitter profile specifically set up when they join your company, who owns the profile if they leave? This is a potential legal mine field if there is not clear understanding via written and signed guidelines from the start.
Your mediation process should be clearly outlined, should you discover a breath of your guide lines. We live in a litigious world. You are less likely to end up facing off in court against former team members, if you can show a clear documented mediation process.
Disclaimers! If you request your team members use them when blogging or posting comments or advice, make sure you have been clear on the wording of the disclaimer and when to use them.
Copyright You should have guidelines that stipulate what are approved images and content, or from where such content can be sourced. There are many sources for royalty free images available today. Some are free, others require subscriptions or pay per use fees. It goes without saying that your marketing team should only use approved content (or does it) Leave nothing to chance and be specific in your policies as to what is approved content & from where it can be sourced.
Take the time now to outline your policies and guidelines, it could save you a lot of heart ache in the future. At the very least it will ensure you have consistent and fair polices for every one in your team.