One objective of marketing communications is third party endorsement. This means effectively telling your brand’s story and creating brand advocates; encouraging people to support your product, service or point of view.
Huge sums of money are spent each year by brands – both big and small – on this aspect of marketing communications, and of course, nurturing relationships with stakeholders outside of your business is vital.
However, some organisations overlook the numbers of brand advocates sitting under their roofs – their employees. The people who work for you can often be your number one cheerleaders and this opportunity should not be ignored as an integral part of your marketing strategy.
That said, as we live in a digital world, it’s no longer enough to state in an employee handbook that a person working for your company should not bring its reputation into disrepute. After all, reputation takes years to build and seconds to destroy, and that’s why brands should give serious thought to developing a social media policy for use across its business.
Even if your organisation is not active on social media, the likelihood is that your employees are. Recent studies have shown the majority of employees would be willing to share company information across their own social media channels – they’re ready-made brand advocates already operating in the digital world.
But knowing what to share, how to share it and the parameters around this activity, is often a grey area. Here are five top tips on how to create a successful social media policy:
- Remind employees to familiarise themselves with existing company policies included in the employee handbook and stress that these policies extend across all social media platforms including networking sites, blogs and wikis for both professional and personal use.
- If one of your employees comments on any aspect of your business, they must identify themselves as an employee – they should never claim or imply that they are speaking on your business's behalf. This can be done through the use of a disclaimer along the lines of: “The views expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the views of [insert name of your company].
- Activity across social media platforms should not disclose confidential information – whether it’s internal intel or information shared with your business by a third party.
- Social media activity must respect the laws of the land – including copyright and fair use – therefore posting should not include company logos or trademarks, unless you have given prior permission to do so.
- A good reputation is a valuable asset you must protect. Therefore, you reserve the right to ask that employees avoid discussing certain subjects across social media platforms, unsuitable comments removed and inappropriate content relating to the business is withdrawn from personal accounts.
Lastly – a bonus top tip – is to identify the heavy-weight social media users within your business, the true digital advocates within your organisation, and ask them to collaborate with you on the creation of your social media policy. In doing so, you’ll facilitate internal supporters of the new guidelines who will not only inform you of how employees are using social media outside of work (which can help to inform your policy), but will be willing to assist you during the role-out of the recommendations inside the office too.