The way to Create an Efficient Social Media Coverage

According to a 2019 survey by the Pew Research Center, nearly three-quarters of all employed adults in the United States use social media every weekday before, during, and after work. And with so many employees now working remotely, the lines between personal and professional use of social media can become blurred.

As a result, organizations of all sizes are realizing the importance of creating and updating social media guidelines so that employees have clear guidelines on what is and isn’t appropriate online behavior.

“Your employees are active on social media whether they want to or not,” said Emma Vites Patel, account director for LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions team in New York City. “If you want them to be professional and enthusiastic about your brand, you need to give them guidelines and then encourage their participation.”

Small businesses are particularly at risk from employees abusing social media. “It doesn’t matter if you have one or thousands of employees. Companies need to have a policy that applies regardless of where people work, even if it doesn’t happen during work hours.” “said Nancy Flynn, founder and chief executive of the ePolicy Institute, an HR training company in Columbus, Ohio, and author of the Social Media Handbook (Wiley, 2012).

Put a team together

It’s important to create a social media policy that incorporates everyone’s perspective and addresses a wide range of concerns, including those of business executives, HR, legal, marketing, communications, and IT.

“Social media is often viewed as a marketing function. However, HR has a marketing function when it comes to attracting new employees,” said Patel. “It’s important to get marketing and staff into the same conversation.” However, it’s also important not to lose sight of the role of HR in complying with the company’s other social media policies.

“The role of HR in this process is to ensure that your social media guidelines are aligned with the general behavior and workplace guidelines in your company. You may even want your social media guidelines to reference these other guidelines directly or call them up so that there is no confusion. ” said Vasilios Alexiou, co-founder of FirmPlay, an employee advocacy software company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Additionally, it’s a good idea for HR to ensure that all new hires review social media guidelines as part of their onboarding and / or training process.”

Patel agrees. “Make sure you include the new hiring policy in the employee handbook,” she said.

At Qode Social, a Toronto-based social media marketing company of 20, new employees are asked to read and sign the Social Media Policy to make a commitment to understand and follow the rules.

“A social media policy must be positive and support productivity instead of limiting, censoring and retaining employees. Nobody wants to feel constrained,” said Claude-Dee Laguerre, Qode’s vice president of business development. “Everyone needs to feel safe, trustworthy, protected, and that the company is focused on their best interests.”

Of course, in order for a social media policy to be enforceable, employees need to be trained on what that means, Flynn said. “If you don’t explain how and why you’re monitoring and what you’re looking for, employees are likely to be offended when their boss looks over the electronic shoulder.”

“What your employees share on social media directly reflects the company’s brand as well as the employee’s professional brand,” said Kathi Kruse, founder and digital media strategist at Kruse Control, a digital media company in Newport Beach, California trained and trained to use social media. This can open their eyes to new opportunities and increase their willingness to participate in ways that benefit both the company and the employees. ”

What to include

Alexiou recommends that the social media guidelines include the following elements:

  • Roll. Identify the two main roles of employees on social media: official and unofficial. Make it clear that only the former can speak on behalf of the company.
  • Acceptable behavior and content. What can and cannot your employees post online? For example, employees must respect others, be honest and transparent about their roles, maintain confidentiality in the workplace, and so on. Prohibit online spats about the company and inflammatory or disrespectful language.
  • Regulations, Legal Restrictions, and Sensitive Information. Make sure your reps understand the type of content they can and cannot post according to industry regulations.
  • Procedures for Conflict or Crisis. Make it clear what your employees should do in these situations, including who they should contact and under what circumstances.
  • Call to action for participation. Explain that participating in social media can help them build their personal brand, help the company recruit top talent, and drive the company’s sales and marketing efforts. Encourage your reps to share why they enjoy working for you, how they feel supported by their manager or mentor, and customer stories about how your product or service has affected their lives.

Do you know the law

“The expanded reach of social platforms and their integration into our daily lives puts companies at greater risk of brand and reputational damage,” said Alonzo Martinez, associate counsel at HireRight, a background screening company in Irvine, Calif. The guidelines give both employers as well as employee guidelines to follow to avoid risk and be more responsible on social media. “

While employers have a lot of freedom in drafting their social media guidelines, the lines between personal opinions and those expressed on behalf of the organization are sometimes blurry.

“In most states, it is legal for private employers to dismiss employees at will for off duty unless they are in a protected class,” said Mark Kluger, labor attorney at Kluger Healey in Fairfield. NJ “Private employers are under no obligation to retain employees whose personal views they do not share or whom they believe may adversely affect the company’s reputation.”

One approach is to differentiate in the policy what employees are allowed to post on the company’s social media websites and what they are allowed to post about the company on their own personal accounts, said Daniel Prywes, a litigator at Morris, Manning & Martin in Washington, DC

“There can be state-to-state restrictions on what employers can do about an employee’s use of personal social media,” he said. “Employers can adapt the guidelines to the laws of the states in which the employees are located,” he warned against monitoring employee activities on social media.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are not like Facebook or Google, where hundreds of people are available to monitor what employees are doing,” he said. “The goal is to prevent language from poisoning the workplace, and not to become the curator of all the content that employees share on social media.”

The key to developing effective social media guidelines is to clearly define the subjective term “offensive,” added Kluger. “For example, companies should determine that employees should avoid posting expressions of hate or intolerance on social media. It is really important for employees to understand what is appropriate and what is inappropriate.”

Martinez points out that companies don’t need to constantly monitor what their employees are saying on social media. “But they need to be aware of the things that can cause problems for the company, such as racially insensitive comments, derogatory comments that encourage violence or criminal activity,” he said.

He recommends that HR or IT conduct regular reviews to see if anything is published online about the company, but warns them not to limit their monitoring to information that is publicly available. “Don’t go around to befriend employees in order to have access to the content they post on their personal accounts,” he said.

Promote engagement

A social media policy should reflect company culture and align with other company policies, said Qode’s Laguerre. “It is important for companies to be transparent about their expectations and about what should and should not be published so that there are no misunderstandings.”

Since Qode’s social media policies are explicitly anti-racist, Laguerre knew that if she posted a link to an article on CBC News that featured her participation in a rally against racism and police brutality, she would get the support of her peers and colleagues became -workers. However, the company went a step further. In addition to offering Laguerre training on racial prejudice, Qode gave Laguerre a free hand to develop activities celebrating Black History Month and then tweeted his support on the company’s official Twitter account.

And on International Women’s Day, the company tweeted its appreciation for the hard work and contributions of all women. Laguerre believes that this culture of inclusivity was instrumental in creating a close group of people who continued to work well together during the pandemic where everyone is working remotely.

“People want to work in a place that matches their values,” said Laguerre. “They want their company to be a good reflection of who they are.”

Social media can also be a good place for employees to share their opinions and experiences. “People are more likely to trust information when it comes from employees because their voice is more trusted than the brand’s voice,” said Patel.

In the early stages of the pandemic, in order to measure employee engagement, Emplify’s executives directed their data team to stop working and focus on developing a COVID-19 wellbeing assessment tool. The new tool was immediately successful. More than 1,000 companies registered in the first two weeks. The intensive group work also took a toll on the 65-strong company in Fishers, Ind.

“After reviewing our engagement data, we realized our employees needed rest,” said Adam Weber, co-founder and chief people officer, author of Lead Like a Human (Advantage, 2020). So the company decided to run a four-day work week for a month to give employees time to relax. When Weber posted a post on Twitter about the company’s decision, the tweet went viral and received 5 million views and 100,000 “likes”.

“It said something about how people felt,” Weber said.

Arlene S. Hirsch is a career counselor and writer with a private practice in Chicago.

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