A recent study examining online employee management indicates the number of exposure incidents via social media sites has increased from 2008, now affecting almost 1 in every 5 businesses. According to Deloitte LLP 2009 Ethics & Workplace Survey, 30% of employee respondents do not take into account how management, co-workers or their clients will be affected before posting information online.
Social networking is a key element to a communications strategy, however engaging without a social media policy can damage a business. Establish a social media policy to protect your business, provide guidelines for employees and to effectively participate in online discussions.
According to recent comScore, Inc. research, Facebook and Twitter are attracting colossal numbers of monthly unique visitors, 95.5 million and 20.8 million respectively. With the ability to include employers on profiles, companies are experiencing an increase in company spokespeople, and only 17% are prepared with a policy to handle the risks of social media engagement.
Identify what your business will consider social media.
Establish rules for personal and professional uses. LinkedIn and Facebook are typically considered social mediums, as well as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Instagram.
Be clear on how employees are expected to engage professionally and personally.
Intel Corporation keeps its social media policy online and accessible to the public. The policy provides guidelines for employees and contractors to follow when creating or contributing to blogs, social networks, wikis, etc. It lists several principals employees are expected to follow, including transparency, posting about your area of expertise and adding value to online discussions.
Take Honda for example. Honda published photos of its upcoming vehicle, the Crosstour on Facebook. Shortly after the photos were published, many of Honda’s Facebook fans began to express mainly negative opinions regarding the vehicle’s design. Shortly after the negative comments, positive comments appeared. However, the positive comments were posted by the Manager of Product Planning at Honda, acting as one of the many Honda Facebook fans. The savvy Facebook audience was quick to realize the connection. Identify who you are when commenting on social sites. Be transparent.
With a direct connection to the millions of active social media users, it is pertinent to protect your business. When establishing guidelines for employees, make it clear that social media is a form of communication, even if viewed as informal. Employees should be reminded to keep proprietary information confidential.
Training is a must for all employees, from top executives to customer service representatives.
Social media philosophies and policies should be introduced together in an informative and engaging manner, grounded in the core beliefs of the business. Educate your staff on what social media encompasses, why it is important to the business and how they can effectively and responsibly participate. You may even discover social media evangelists for your business within your company ranks.
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