As Social Media Manager for Benefitfocus and a voracious user of social media platforms, I get a lot of questions about corporate social media. One of the topics I am asked about often is our social media policy - whether we have one & what it entails. Companies are starting to see a well-crafted policy as a way to offer guidance to associates and control risk. If you are in the process of creating and implementing a social media policy at your office, here are some tips and best practices:
Offer guidelines, not restrictions
Don’t assume that restricting or banning social media use amongst your associates during work hours will prevent them from talking about your company online. Instead, provide guidelines and examples for what is acceptable social media use for your associates and empower them to become brand advocates for you.
Be clear about what is unacceptable and the potential consequences for violations
Every company has internal or confidential communications that need to be protected – you probably have privacy policies prohibiting the sharing of these communications externally by traditional methods like email, phone or in person. Associates need to know these policies extend to the social world too. Be clear about the specific types of communications and information that are protected by your company’s social media policy and include potential consequences for violations.
Once you have finalized your social media policy (and I strongly recommend having your HR and/or Legal department review it as well), don’t let it sit on a shelf collecting dust. Communicate it widely & regularly to your associates so that they are well aware of its existence and what it involves. Consider including it in your training programs for new associates.
Looking to implement a social media policy at your company but don’t know where to begin? Below is an excerpt from the Benefitfocus Social Media Policy to help you get started!
Benefitfocus Social Media Policy
Social media is changing the way we work, offering a new model to engage with customers, colleagues and the world at large. At Benefitfocus, we believe this kind of interaction can help you build stronger, more successful business relationships. The Benefitfocus Social Media Policy is a set of guidelines that help ensure all associates using social media for work, do so appropriately.
Benefitfocus encourages all of its associates to explore and engage in social media communities at a level at which they feel comfortable. Have fun, but be smart. The best advice is to approach online worlds in the same way we do the physical one – by using sound judgment and common sense as well as by adhering to the company’s core values, our security policies, the Code of Business Conduct and all other applicable policies.
This social media policy is intended to offer guidance in the following areas:
- Personal use of social media
- Professional use of social media on behalf of Benefitfocus and its clients
- Response to crisis or related issue
- Official Benefitfocus social media sites
The above list provides the framework for the rest of our policy. We then go into more detail on each point offering clear guidelines, expectations and examples so that our associates who want to engage online for work purposes do so properly. I hope you find this information helpful when crafting your company’s social media policy.