How is your organisation managing employeesâ social media use? | DMA

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How is your organisation managing employeesâ social media use?


Most businesses promote their products, services and brand via social media, and most marketers use at least one social media platform in their marketing mix. Where there is a public face to a brand, there are usually clear guidelines for those teams – marketing, digital, comms, PR, and legal – that are involved in posting or engaging on social media on behalf of their organisation.

What is often less clear, however, is employees’ personal use of social media and where the boundaries between professional and personal profiles lie. There is no fail-safe answer, but a clear and robust social media policy will set out for employers and employees alike what is acceptable use of social media.

Define boundaries between personal and professional use of social media

Even when they are posting on their own social media profiles, your staff will need to understand that they are talking in a public place and that what they say can still impact on their professional life and on your organisation.

For example, there are numerous examples of disaffected employees criticising their colleagues or employers, or leaking confidential information. Sometimes they can even undermine their own professional credibility by sharing personal views that are incompatible with their professional role. For instance the senior (male) lawyer who recently approached a female lawyer via LinkedIn to remark on her good looks and ‘stunning’ profile picture.

And who can forget the corporate communications exec at a US internet company who managed to insult Germans, the British and the entire African continent in a series of tweets on a flight to South Africa? Although she was posting to her own Twitter profile, the comments went viral and sparked a huge media backlash. She was readily associated with her company’s brand – particularly given her role as a PR professional – and the company felt it had no option but to fire her.

Make sure that your employees and associates fully understand the risks, responsibilities and consequences when using their own social profiles. And remind them that anything they post on the internet – whether on behalf of your organisation, or that could reasonably easily be associated with it – will be seen, shared and screen-grabbed for posterity. It could easily affect your reputation and theirs for years to come.

Social media training and policies

There are several ways to mitigate many of the risks on social media, and effective guidelines and training are a key part of that. As part of your company’s social media training, you will likely cover some of the following topics:

- Make it clear what behaviour and language is unacceptable – and if necessary, explain why.

- Not posting negative comments about your company or other staff

- Not posting comments that might be considered racist, sexist or otherwise offensive to anyone

- Expression of political views, as appropriate to your organisational stance

- Not arguing online, or escalating heated discussions

- Use of personal social media during working hours

- Use of internal comms tools (such as Skype and Yammer), including what information is monitored and when

- Not posting company business on personal profiles at any time

- Ownership of social media/business contacts

- How to handle and report inappropriate content

All of this information, and the failure to comply with it, should also be part of your company-wide social media policy and staff employment contracts. It’s also important to review these documents regularly to ensure they keep up to date with changes in social media platform use and data protection legislation.

You can read more information about effective social media management – from campaign management to metrics – in the Social Media Council’s latest publication, A Guide to Best Practice in Social Media.

Thanks to Janine Ococks for her original research.

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