In today’s hyper-connected world, what our employees say at 9 pm on their own Twitter feeds is just as important as what they say at 9 am in the office. Whilst we don’t want to be killjoys, it’s important for our employees to have a set of social media guidelines explaining what is and isn’t appropriate to share on their personal social media accounts. Of course, we want them to be free and able to express themselves online, however, we don’t want their posts to implicate us and potentially damage our brand.
In this blog we’ll be diving into- why we need social media guidelines, what to include and how best to communicate your social media guidelines!
Why do we need social media guidelines?
Tip: Learn how to manage a social media crisis.
We’ve seen it before, an employee reveals inside information or is abusive about a customer on their own social media account and all hell breaks loose. Sometimes a message posted with good intentions, such as an employee brand ambassador defending their company during a crisis, can have negative implications for the brand.
Take this scenario: a company is involved in a scandal and has yet to comment, but an employee has taken to Twitter to respond to the scandal. This can look like an official response and won’t necessarily fit with the message the PR team wishes to relay. Since journalists have their eyes glued to social channels, we must be careful that they don’t mistake an employee for a spokesperson.
By setting guidelines, our employee brand ambassadors can be held accountable for their social media activity. They will know exactly what is appropriate and what isn’t. This way they can continue to post and contribute authentic content to our brand, without jeopardising its reputation or their careers.
Top tip: Prevent a crisis from developing over what an employee has said online by using a media intelligence tool to track brand mentions. If we can spot a potential brand-damaging mention by an employee or member of the public, we may be able to rectify it before it goes viral.
What should we include in social media guidelines?
Here are a few examples that employees should not share. It’s worth noting that this will vary between companies.
Sales figures that haven’t been published externally
Unreleased product information
Technical information about how products are made
Proprietary information such as quarterly reviews, annual general meeting etc.
Remember to be very specific in your social media guidelines about what they should not share. This way there’s no room for confusion.
Who employees should not interact with
We should also outline who, if anyone, our employees should not interact with online. This may include competitors, journalists or clients. Explain why they shouldn’t communicate with these people so employee brand ambassadors understand how it could be damaging. Setting context is super important.
What employees can post regarding the company?
As discussed in our last webinar, social media in a PR context, it’s good practice to involve our employees when creating content. Employees are great brand ambassadors and their personalities can help our brand seem more authentic.Create a hashtag for employees to post content. For example, at Meltwater we use #meltwaterlife – take a look at our Instagram account to see what our employees have been up to!
Create a list of the kind of content employees should be posting in relation to our brands such as job ads, company press hits, blogs, press releases, external competitions, awards and more.
Top tip: We can use a media intelligence tool to discover the buzz around our companies community hashtag. By doing so, we can easily find posts by employees on social platforms that we can then repurpose for our own content. Rank employees by influence and encourage those featured high in the ranks to share more brand-related content. A little incentive goes a long way.
How to conduct yourself online
Even when employees are not discussing our brand, they can create negative sentiment for us. Abusive posts, illegal behaviour and potentially offensive opinions can cause problems for us. Think about whether employees should have a disclaimer in their social media bios:
Also, create a set of rules of do’s and don’ts for general conduct online.
A few rules we would recommend:
1. Do remember, even if you can delete a post, often your social footprint never disappears. Others may screenshot posts or retweet them, leaving your post still exposed to the public. In fact, there are websites dedicated to posting deleted tweets such as https://politwoops.co.uk/ which displays any posts deleted by politicians.
2. Do think before you post. Consider the impact a post may have on yourself and your brand.
3. Don’t post about your brand without it being clear that you work for them.
4. Don’t post fake reviews about your product or brand
5. Don’t post abusive content
6. Don’t post misleading claims about your brand
A few examples of social media guidelines to get ideas flowing
How to present social media guidelines
So now we have our social media guidelines, how should we present them to our employees?
A video is a quick and easy way to inform employees of important news and rules. We could either involve our staff in creating a video or use an animation instead.
Take a look at Great-West Life’s social media guidelines video for inspiration.
Infographics are all the rage at the moment. We can present our rules in a visually appealing way to help employee ambassadors to quickly get the gist. Infographics can also easily be displayed around the office.
Source: The Steel Method
Sending an internal newsletter is a great way to curate and communicate news, goals and achievements of our teams.
Short PDF document
We can send a PDF with all the guidelines to employees via email. This is a simple but effective way to communicate new legislation.
We advise combining two of these methods to ensure maximum impact. Perhaps opt for video as well as written communication to appeal to different ways our audience absorb information.
What do you include in your social media guidelines?
Want to learn more about building a social media community? Complete the form below and we’ll be in touch!