The tech industry gives us the best and worst examples of how to manage your employees’ social media habits with regard to work place communication. The power of social media can take a small, relatively unknown, web business and turn it into a multimillion dollar IPO. Conversely, many of the most important secrets in technology fail to be kept secret. Sometimes this was by accident, and other times by design.
One thing is clear. Businesses of all sizes are at the mercy of social media. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you have a clearly defined social media policy regarding what your employees should and should not publish.
- Share proprietary information. Every company has some information they would rather keep from the public and/or their competitors. Make sure your employees know when specific pieces of information are not to be leaked.
- Share private information. Discussing financial information or contact information can severely irritate clients, employees, and others. Discussing health information can sometimes be a criminal offense. A good rule of thumb is never to share information that isn’t about you.
- Make derogatory comments about employers or their practices. Everyone wants to vent about workplace situations occasionally, but negative comments can get you fired. Negative comments that are untrue can get you sued.
- Make derogatory comments about customers. Funny customer stories happen daily, but sharing online, even if it can’t get back to the customer makes others feel like your company enjoys gossip.
- Make derogatory comments about the competition. Friendly competition is healthy. When it becomes unfriendly, however, it can create a lack of trust with your community and retaliation by a competitor. Even if a competitor attacks publicly, taking the high road will nearly always prevail.
- Gossip. Office gossip always gets back to the source. Banning gossip is critical to healthy working teams. Today with 24/7 access and the anonymity of the web, gossip is thriving and more dangerous.
- Encourage positive stories about employees, customers, and projects. Make sure you aren’t violating privacy, but sharing the positive creates a great vibe for your business.
- Create anticipation. Hints from your staff that big things are coming can often be more valuable than leaking secrets too early.
- Publicly praise your employees. Telling an employee “good job” is nice. Telling them on your Facebook page and tagging them so their friends and family can see demonstrates your pride.
- Share lots of pictures. Snap shots and even short videos are great ways of expressing the personality of your company. Again, be sure to respect privacy, but putting faces in front of your customers is a great way to connect.
- Plan a social media strategy. Put the power of social media to work, and any good marketer knows that planning is essential. If you’re going to use social media, think ahead, and tie it into your other marketing efforts.
- Discuss the do’s and don’ts with your team. It can harness the power of social media and also create accountability. Your employees need to know exactly what to share and what to keep quiet.
The power of social media lies in the ability to reach an exponential number of potential customers, employees, vendors and more. It’s much more than hosting a Facebook page or a few Tweets. Take Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, FourSquare, Instagram, Google+ and ten more networks still to come, then multiply those by your number of employees, times the number of their personal and business contacts. A well-structured social media plan can be massively powerful when successfully launched, or massively terrifying if things get out of hand.
Mediastead can help you create a structured action plan and quality policies, giving your teams direction and keeping your company thriving across the web. Call Mediastead at 215-253-3737 and ask for a social media policy session.