Rules for using social media? Why would we need those?

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In order to be successful on social media, it is important know how to use it properly. Many companies are turning to social media in order to advertise to their target audience. It is critical that employee’s understand the guidelines that a company has created for their social media. Companies need to create a set of guidelines that employee’s understand and always have access to. Many companies have run into problems with social media due to employee’s not using it properly. “Research survey shows that only 24% of companies have policies for how employees should use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.” (Griffiths, G. 2012). This is an extremely shocking fact, I wonder what the companies that do not have policies do for their social media. I believe that companies should have the guidelines be stated right away to employee’s but let it be known that they may be changed at any time. It is important to notify the employee’s whenever changes have occurred.

In chapter 5 of Share This by Gemma Griffiths, she gives a list of guidelines that are important to be successful in the social media world. There are a few that I find to be super important in order to have a company represent its brand properly.

1. Set the expectations of the employees:  informing the employee’s of the importance of social media and why it is important for employee’s to represent the brand correctly.

2.Remind employees to remain professional: employees need to represent the brand in a positive light, anything they may say or do on social media is reflecting the company.

3. Clearly communicate the existence of and updates to guidelines: employees need to be aware of any changes made to the guidelines in order to maintain their brand voice. There is a risk of employees breaking rules if they are unaware of the changes, which can result in the company suffering in the end.

4. Outline repercussions of violation: employees need to understand that they also need to work outside of just using social media. Unless that is why they are hired, employees need to know how much time is meant to be spent on the social media. It is also important to tell the employees what is appropriate or not, when inappropriate behavior occurs there needs to be consequences and employees should be aware of it before the situation occurs.

5. Regularly revise and update guidelines: situations are going to occur in the workplace, the guidelines need to be changed and updated regularly according to what happens in the business. Employees may have opinions on the guidelines and some changes may need to be made in order to reach the target audience. It is important to always inform the employees of any changes!

One company that is mentioned in the book that has very clear social media guidelines is Coca Cola. They have a list of company expectations and personal expectations for the employees. I especially like how the guidelines aren’t so harsh, they are more as just guidance for the staff. They even bold certain words in order to show the importance of them. My favorite guideline for this company is “when in doubt, do not post” (Coca Cola, Company spokespeople: Our expectations #4). I think that this is a perfect point to everyone on social media, that if you have any doubt in your mind that it is not professional and appropriate than you should not post it.

What companies do you know that have clear, professional guidelines? Do you like Coca Cola’s guidelines or is there anything you would change? If you had a company, what guidelines would you think are important for employee’s to know?

Sources:

http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/online-social-media-principles

Griffiths, G. (2012). Share This: The Social Media Handbook For PR Professionals. United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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4 thoughts on “Rules for using social media? Why would we need those?

  1. I love Coca Cola’s guideline “when in doubt, do not post” it is the perfect quote to describe why so many companies have an issue with social media. Their guidelines overall are clear and easy to understand, similar to IBM’s guidelines that we looked at during the Live Tweet. They are just guidelines and suggestions for users of social media that represent the company as opposed to rules that dictate what can and can’t be written on social media pages.

  2. I love the guideline “when in doubt, do not post.” I feel like that’s something everyone needs to know and stick to. One wrong tweet, facebook post, etc. can carry a rather large backlash. If any part of you thinks it doesn’t sound good or doesn’t work in some way then why risk posting it? It’s disheartening to see posts from successful companies where I just scratch my head and go, “Why would anyone post that? What does that even mean? etc.” As professionals, being able to filter ourselves is extremely important.

    • I completely agree! I have read some things from companies and have just been shocked as to why they would think it would be okay to post! It really could hurt your image and affect their future business. It is important to really re-read and think about what we are communicating to the public, before we regret it.

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