When it comes to social media, it should be common sense for employees to act in the best interest of the brand. The fact that many company brands have been damaged by the online musings of their employees says otherwise. It’s not just the disgruntled employee whose online mistakes affect the station or show brand. It could be the social media or blogging novice, the young and inexperienced intern, or the employee with a bizarre sense of humor. Or it could be your smartest employee with a momentary lapse in judgment.
Most stations have a corporate social media policy in place by now. But when it comes to the internet, businesses have more than just the management of company accounts to worry about. With 750 million users on Facebook, 200 million on Twitter, hundreds of millions on YouTube, 25 million on Google+ and countless other social media sites gaining in popularity, it’s certain that most of your employees are active online.
Does your social media policy address the management of your staff’s personal online activity? It should.
While you can’t control the tone or content of your employees’ accounts, you can control what is said about your brand. Ensure that your confidentiality agreement covers online activity on both company and personal accounts. Your employees should know they cannot state or imply any proprietary or competitive information during or following employment to anyone, any way, anywhere (cyberspace is a place).
It’s not enough to require talent or other station employees to add the clause “The views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of (station name)” to personal accounts. Their posts about your brand can be damaging, regardless of whether listeners know it is not an official station account.
Developing A Personal Account Policy
Invite your social media savvy employees to a meeting (don’t be cheap; buy them lunch). Facilitate a brainstorming session to come up with ideas for both your “don’ts” and “do’s” lists. This is especially helpful for managers who aren’t confident with their knowledge of popular online media.
Remember to keep your company social media policy separate from your company’s policy on employee accounts. Your company social media policy will give you extensive control over your station’s official sites. Have respect for your employee’s personal (cyber)space by understanding that you can only control the content relevant to your company. Outline the big picture of how their accounts can affect your station’s brand image.
Include the confidentiality agreement information, and a short, specific list of topics that are off limits. Give them examples of what they are not allowed to discuss online with regards to the station, and examples of the types of conversation you encourage.
Make the policy clear, and post the most important points in a place employees can easily find without asking- on the wall, or in an email reminder.
While all of this talk about damaging brand reputation sounds scary, the benefits outweigh the risks. Your employees are your station’s #1 brand ambassadors. In media, your employees are the face of the brand. Listeners develop an opinion on your brand based on their interaction with your talent.
Don’t give them so many restrictions that they are scared to engage listeners. Talent who are active online increase reach and build brand loyalty, for both their personal brands and the station brand. Encourage them by giving them more than just a “don’t” list. Give them positive guidelines to inspire engagement that will build your brand image.
Controlling the Chatter
Your social media manager (SMM) should be able to keep an online eye on employees without much effort. If your SMM sees an employee online flirting with danger (and I don’t mean a hot man on a motorcycle), he or she should report to your Human Resources Manager immediately, after taking a screen shot of the offense. The HR Manager can decide what action to take.
Your SMM should also be available as a resource for other employees. Make “when in doubt, ask” your social media motto to avoid unintended online injuries.
Before you get started, watch this video from the Department of Justice, Victoria inspiration. You’ll be glad you did. They have done a fabulous job at creatively exhibiting the importance of social media policy. It wouldn’t hurt to pass this along to your employees, either.