Top 10 social media guidelines every company needs

By Diane Sofranec | Managing Editor, Pest Management Professional

If your company has a presence on social media, guidelines for what your employees post will help reduce the likelihood a legal or public relations nightmare will occur.

Even if you’re not the owner of a restaurant chain that has its share of workers behaving badly, having a plan in place will ensure employees know what is and is not acceptable behavior when using such sites as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Your social media guidelines should spell out how you expect your employees to behave. Consider providing solid examples that illustrate what you mean. Here are 10 points every company should address:

1. Social media goals.

Establish a reason for your company’s presence on social media. Do you want to spread the word about your products or services, engage with customers and potential customers, or obtain customer feedback? A goal will help you determine how you want your employees to represent your company.

2. Social media mavens.

Decide whether you want one person from your company to post on all social media platforms, or several to split this task. Consider appointing a responsible and trusted employee who knows the company’s brand well and can intelligently convey it’s messaging.

3. Spokesperson in times of crisis.

Appoint an employee to be the sole spokesperson in the event of any crisis that affects your company. Make it clear to employees that they are not to comment during this time; the idea is to reduce the likelihood of conflicting or incorrect information.

4. Acceptable content.

Think about the information you want to keep confidential. Many companies do not reveal financial figures, client lists and impending promotions. Let your employees know what is and isn’t fair game.

5. Unacceptable content.

When crafting your guidelines, be as specific as possible. You may think it’s unnecessary to explain the meaning of unacceptable, but trust me, it’s best to provide clear examples. Obscene language, discussions of politics and religion, and racist or sexist remarks are just a few bad behaviors.

6. Professional presence.

Although social media is meant to be informal, remind employees they are representing your company. Correct spelling and proper grammar are a must.

7. Think before you post.

Stress the need to maintain your company’s professional reputation. Remember: The content your employees post will remain online forever.

8. Legal issues.

Follow copyright laws and fair use policies regarding content and photos from other sources your employees may post.

9. Identification.

Require employees to be upfront about whom they work for when responding to comments about your company in chat rooms, on message boards and in posts.

10. Ramifications.

What will you do if an employee does not follow your guidelines? Clearly state the consequences and take action if necessary.

There’s no denying the appeal and popularity of social media. So distribute your guidelines to all employees, not just those whose job it is to be the company mouthpiece.

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