This post was originally written by Kerry Sugrue, former Social Media Specialist at Apartments.com.
Whether you are just getting started with your social media strategy or you’re paving the way for others in the industry, it is imperative to have a policy in place. In this digital era, your employees need to be well versed in appropriate online behavior when they are representing, not only themselves, but also the brand. Policy can be a scary word for employees, which is why your social media policy should really be more of a set of guidelines. Here are a couple tips to get you started on your set of guidelines:
1. Team Effort – Creating a social media policy at your company should be a team effort. Gather a cross-functional group from departments like PR, legal, strategy, sales, marketing and senior leadership. All of these people will play an important role in crafting your guidelines.
2. Common Sense – Make sure to include guidelines that you may think are common sense in your policy. You cannot assume everyone thinks the same way and it is better to be safe than sorry. Some examples of this would be:
• Be transparent – If you discuss industry topics, make sure your company name and position are clear and included in your profile description.
• Be respectful – The Golden Rule still applies: Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Don’t say hurtful things about residents, the competition, coworkers or the company.
• Be professional – Post content in a professional manner and tone. Also, never disclose company information or personal information about residents.
• Be truthful – Don’t comment anonymously on things. Own what you are saying. Also, if you don’t know the answer to a question, do not make one up. Find the right person to ask and respond to the question accurately.
• Be informed – If you are speaking on a topic, make sure you are completely up to speed on it and can speak intelligently about it.
3. Make It Relatable – Make your social media policy easy for employees to relate to. Coca-Cola does a great job with this in their policy. They outline their company’s core values, which have been communicated to employees many times and then talk about how each value relates to social media.
4. Encourage Employee Participation – Another important piece of your policy should be encouraging your employees to participate in social media. Logging into Facebook or going through Twitter has become the new smoke break. Everyone needs 15 minutes to step away from work and socialize; only now it’s happening online. Razorfish, an interactive marketing agency, does a great job with this. The first line of their social media guidelines is if you are not using social influence marketing in your job, please get started. This type of encouragement empowers their employees to embrace social media.
5. Enforce Your Policy – The hardest part of any policy is enforcing it, but just like your dress code or harassment policies, your social media guidelines need to be imposed. Have steps in place to handle situations and make those steps and the consequences clear to employees.
These are just some ways to make your social media policy successful, but get creative! Social media is an ever-evolving medium and your guidelines should reflect that. Have you implemented a social media policy at your management company? What was successful and what problems did you run into? Let me know in the comments below.