Not only do your customers talk about you online, but also your employees. After all, it has never been so easy to share content with one’s friends as it is now. Many do not discover that they need to implement social media policy until one of their employees oversteps the mark. Can one actually prepare for such eventualities, however? Just last week, I chaired a debate in the Utrecht regional communication circle, Utrechtse Communicatiekring, on the sense/ folly of having a social media policy.
Prior to the debate on social media policies, SNS Reaal, the World Wildlife Fund and the Municipality of Utrecht presented their practical experiences to the audience. This provided insight into a suitable cross-section of different organisations which are also involved in various stages of the use of social media.
Social media policy facts
Recent research has shown that 75% of organisations either have no social media policy or do not even know that it exists. Furthermore, 63% of employees who are obliged to observe social media policy admit that it improves productivity. They also admitted that they appreciate having guidelines to indicate what is permissible and what not. And while one might therefore conclude that clear guidelines provide a win-win situation, the question remains how to draw up such guidelines.
What is sound social media policy?
As a company, can one suffice by implementing general social media policy? How extensive does it need to be? Do you reward employees for good conduct, or do you favour a repressive policy instead, such as that which made the Commonwealth bank a laughing stock? One of the major conclusions I myself drew is that a social media policy is helpful in the transition process to become a social organisation. Encouraging one’s workforce invariably yields the most favourable results. Social media policy also has to be clear and compact, however, such as that applied by TNT, which works well.
Social media policy as added value
Whether or not social media policy is actually worthwhile, is very much dependent on the stage that your organisation has reached with regard to social media. Whenever conversations gain significance, then their relevance in terms of social media policy also sharply increases. However, one should also bear in mind that training employees and encouraging greater awareness are at least as important. Given that you would not normally even consider placing a receptionist in front of a camera without previous media training, then why would you do so in the case of social media?
In short: It is certainly worthwhile developing social media policy, although it should be aimed at encouraging employees as well as being integrated in a training programme. In an era in which employees’ behaviour increasingly contributes to one’s corporate identity, every organisation would be well advised to encourage this.