Like it or not, social media is an essential part of brand building and customer service these days. Whether you’re managing your own social media accounts, or you’ve hired an agency to look after them for you, the things that you and your employees say online will have a huge impact on what people think of your brand. Even the words of an employee that is not an official representative of your company can have an impact, if they mention that they work for you anywhere on their profile. For this reason, it’s important to have some social media rules in place to govern what your employees and representatives say and do online. The following are a few basic rules to consider as a starting point:
Keep Personal and Business Profiles Separate
Ask your employees to keep their personal and their business profiles separate. You don’t want your employees arguing about The X Factor or ranting about politics on their professional profiles.
Another good reason to keep professional and personal profiles separate is that tweets from a brand account have extra impact. If someone who worked for a mobile phone service provider advised one of their friends to get a mobile contract with a different company, as a casual observer, what would that make you think?
Think Before You Tweet (or Repost)
If you aren’t trained in public relations, it’s easy to get caught up in heated exchanges, or to re-tweet something funny without thinking about whether others might find it offensive. You can get away with the occasional tasteless tweet on your personal profile, but if it’s a slow news day a brand reposting an offensive image on their Facebook profile could end up being the laughing stock of the blogosphere. If you can’t trust your employees to think before they post, then consider hiring a social media agency to handle your profiles for you.
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Confirm Before You Repost
News spreads across social media quickly these days, and it’s common for people to rush to retweet, cross post, or blog about things without confirming that whatever it is they’re sharing is actually true. People may forgive the occasional mistake, but if you become known for sharing rumours and speculation (without pointing out that whatever you’re sharing is just a rumour), then people will lose faith in your brand.
Get Someone Else to Check Your Messages
For many people, the benefit of social media is the immediacy of the medium. However, it’s the immediacy that is the big downside of it too. If your company is structured in a way that allows this, it might be a good idea to have people ask their colleagues to check messages before they go out. For example, confirm with the person that sets prices before announcing a sale. Ask someone in HR to check messages about holiday opening hours, and get the guy sitting next to you to give you a sanity check as to whether the joke you’re sharing is family friendly.
Not all companies will choose to adopt all of the above rules, but they are a good starting point for discussion within your company.