Access to social media has never been easier these days. Just about everyone has at least one social media account updated as frequently as within the minute, hour, day, or week (depending on how much of a social media addict you are). This is in fact a widely spreading addiction which is beginning to trouble experts from all fields. Sure, social media is useful, but there are potential dangers in its abuse.
Take, for example, social media at work. There has been much talk regarding how social media can be regulated at work, and especially with businesses using social media platforms as part of the business in terms of marketing and customer service. Herein comes the social media policy.
A social media policy is a document put in place showing best practices, guidelines, and procedures for employees who post content over the Internet, either professionally as a part of their job or personally as an individual. Having such a policy in place is a good idea for any company or business to reduce risks for both employer and employee.
At present, there are two general approaches to addressing social media policy—namely drafting a separate social media policy addressing all issues pertaining to available social platforms, or writing the policies on the go or as needed when complications arise.
Crafting a social media policy is more like a smelting pot. It needs original material as well as new material, so as much as possible input from employees themselves must be taken into consideration in shaping policies regarding what an employee can and cannot do on social media.
In shaping your policy, the following pointers should be considered:
These points should be fair and simple enough not to be understood and agreed to by any employee. Remember, the policy can be updated to suit the needs of the company and the employee.
Social media can be a great resource for gaining insight into the opinions shared by the employees and the community in general. It also helps in building a reputation for the company, and help the company promote its brand or service to the community. The important thing is in setting the boundaries of what can be allowed and what can be considered as fair and proper use of social media, in consideration of any due task or duty.
Having made your policy, now it’s time to use and enforce the policy. The task of enforcing the social media policy is as important as creating the policy itself. Once your policy is clear, outline it in a bulleted list of key points which will serve as guidelines concerning the use of social media. It is also important to highlight any changes to the policy and send out memos of the updates.
Spelling out the risks involved in connection to your company’s reputation or standing and the steps that should be taken in the event of such risks happening help in protecting your company’s reputation. It lowers the chances of any potential legal implication. Always cover all possible bases with a risk plan. As the saying goes, it is always better safe than sorry.
Setting proper standards and expectations for employees allow an employee to creatively express their opinions or comments without them having to think of negative implications to their work. Having an employee understand what can and cannot be posted allows the employee a degree of freedom of expression within the bounds permitted by common law or as determined as useful by the company.
Social media is still media, and getting attention always helps a business (provided this attention does not tarnish or degrade the reputation of the business, but that’s how it goes in modern marketing trends: all attention is good attention and can be commoditized).
Implementing a social media policy is one thing. Consistently adhering to the policy is a totally different affair. For companies having employees who must face the public constantly and interact with them, it is important for the employees to understand any standards that have to be followed or maintained with respect to the brand or product.
Developing a strong voice or presence in the market is essential in establishing a solid consumer base, and bringing in front-liners who understand this cause further cements your brand reputation in the market.
After assigning roles to employees in relation to your social media policy, it is vital to clearly define what the responsibilities are and who takes ownership of what issues in relation to your social media policy. Having clear and set responsibilities helps eliminate potential confusion or overlap of authority or responsibility.
The areas of responsibility that should be clearly determined involve the following:
Online customer service protocols are the rules and corresponding courses of action to be taken in cases or issues in connection to customer service. Some of the common dictates in these protocols:
Social media for most businesses today is critical for its marketing efforts and customer service. But potential risks come with the terrain when it comes to security and safety when using these tools. For an organization this occurs in the form of phishing scams, malware, hacking, and human error.
Such risks are avoided with a clear social media policy involving guidelines for employees on doing the following:
Creating a secure password – End users are admittedly lazy most especially in creating passwords. It is an IT officer’s job to educate end users regarding the importance of their passwords and train them in password security. Some basics you need to know:
Defend against spam and phishing attacks – Be careful before clicking on any link on the Web asking you to log in or enter your login details. These are predatory sites that collect passwords. When in doubt, you can always manually enter the site address or URL on the address bar of your browser window. Some terminology of the main attacks to keep in mind:
Share only official, approved, branded content – Sharing only branded and approved content minimizes the risk of sharing potentially dangerous files containing viruses. Another benefit for this is that by sharing brand content, you spread awareness of your brand and thus slowly build trust in your brand. This is also important in generating more customers and further gaining customer loyalty. By sharing valuable information, it builds trust and rapport which evolves into willingness to purchase your products in the future.
Employee security training – By conducting training in online security and safety, employees are made aware of the threats to the company network and to the business itself. By providing training to ensure detection and countermeasures to such, the following benefits are acquired:
In making an airtight social media policy, it is best discussed with your legal team in order to get a thorough input regarding the making of the policy. Laying out of clear privacy and disclosure clauses in your policy help in avoiding the risks involved with the following regulatory and legal requirements:
The opportunity to grow and connect with your customers and potential customers is made possible through social media. Along with these opportunities come threats for your security and safety. It is therefore critical to establish a policy that would ensure not only the safety of your business but also your employees. Arming yourself with a careful, thorough, updated social media policy ensures effective defense against malicious software and also against any future lawsuit or legal implications that may arise, if not for the implementation of such policy.
You can choose to implement a single social media policy document to reflect all possible scenarios involved. Another option is to make separate policies outlining specific areas to properly address any issue as it comes up. Updating the policy every so often also helps in maintaining the security statement of your company.