One of the biggest complaints throughout the corporate world these days it the amount of time employees are spending on social media websites, namely Facebook. While most businesses don’t want their employees spending corporate time on Facebook for personal reasons, now is the time to embrace Facebook and other social media websites as a marketing tool.
If They Want The Social Media Time… Set Guidelines
Before getting employees excited about the chance to use social media at work, let’s set make sure the ground rules are set.
First things first, create a social media policy. This will not only help convey to the employees what they can and cannot do, but will cover the company in the future if the employees do something that is deemed punishable.
What should a social media policy contain?
- Limitations on time – By setting limitations on how much time in a day an employee can spend on social media, they cannot use the excuse “well there was a lot to do on Facebook day.” Make it clear that they are using corporate time and they are not to be using a social network to chat with their friends.
- Language Guidelines – The second a business makes the claim “language won’t be an issue” someone will make a post that proves them wrong, so head it off from the start. If there is specific language employees are not supposed to use, make it clear to them.
- Reaction Guidelines – It might seem hard to believe, but some people are pretty short tempered. In September a grocery store called Price Chopper made headlines in a bad way, due to a bad reaction from an employee on social media. When a customer submitted a complaint, instead of writing back in a positive manner, the employee went off on the customer. This resulted in them making national headlines and requiring a few different apologies.
- Profile Guidelines – If they are going to be using a personal account as a representative of the company, their profile needs to match the company image. For example: if a company maintains a clean cut corporate business model, photos of their employees wearing torn up or inappropriate clothing should not be considered acceptable.
Some employees may already be familiar with some social media websites, but it is still important that they respect and understand the guidelines. Most companies expect employees to maintain the corporate image inside and outside of the office. Social media is no different, especially if the employees are connected with customers or potential through their personal accounts. It needs to be clear to employees that they are expected to maintain the corporate image.
What Should an Employee Use Social Media For?
Every company is different when it comes to their expectations for use of social media. Some companies don’t think their employees should be using it at all, while other companies rely on it heavily as a form of Internet marketing. Either way is okay.
For a company who is starting to encourage their employees to use social media, start off restrictive. Start by coming up with a list of exactly what the company will be using social media for and make sure the employees stick to that list.
- Gain new business
- Keep current clients informed
- Attract new employees
While this is a very generic version of a list, come up with a list of exactly what is expected from the employees and let them see the social media plan. By giving the employees access to the plan, there is a better chance they will stick to the plan instead of coming up with their own ideas.
Using this list, come up with some ideas of what is expected of the employees. Giving employees unlimited access to say what they want on social media can be dangerous. Break it down to exactly what is expected, how many posts a day they should be making, what the topics should revolve around, and how it should be posted (corporate account or their personal account?). By starting with these guidelines up front, it will be easier to control in the future.
Which Social Media Websites Should Employees Use?
The website that most employees will flock to first is Facebook, especially if it is a younger generation of employees. Facebook is one of the main social networks that employees are known to “spend too much time on.” While getting a corporate Facebook Page set up is a great start, there should not be a reason for employees to spend too much time on Facebook throughout the day.
One of the best social media websites to encourage employees to use and promote the corporate name is Twitter. Using Twitter, employees can have their own public accounts where they can write about happenings at the company in a way that search engines and the rest of the public can see. This will not only help local promotion within the company but it will also boost the possibility of search engine rankings as tweets are indexed in search engines such as Google.
There are thousands of social networks out there. Most industries have their own social network whether they realize it or not. This is the next place to look by doing a search at your favorite search engine. Chances are, sales won’t be made through an industry standard social network, but it is a great place to find out what other companies are doing. Encouraging employees to spend time on a niche social network can bring new ideas to the table and motivate them in a whole new way.
At the end of the day, social media isn’t going anywhere. Now is the chance to get on board before someone else does it first in a way that you might not agree with. Set the guidelines; set the social media websites, and introduce your employees to social media.
Do you allow your employees to use social media? What are their reactions?
Very good advice, Kirtsin. I totally agree. I personally and professionally think that social media provides an opportunity for everyone working together in a business to do their bit to get involved with promotion, which helps everyone see the benefits of their work and breaks down barriers between different roles or departments (between marketing and ICT, for example).
Having a policy is a very good idea. I do a lot of social media work in music, arts, entertainment and culture and once heard an interesting idea from a theatre company who picked a media personality whose style they would adopt when tweeting, posting, commenting, etc. in social media. The personality they picked, incidentally, was Eddie Mair (http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/pm/eddie_mair/) because they felt that he was, like them, professional, stylish, smooth, subtle, cheeky, funny and Scottish!
Thank you! Having the policy will help keep people in line and keep them meeting your expectations!
Really Great Policy…i always follow same manner as your policy ….to myself and for my co-workers as well….Now days people are addicted by social media (specially FACEBOOK) and social networking sites. And it will gives you a very productive results…Thanks for great post.