Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tip #475: 7 Tips For Instituting Social Media Guidelines (For Your Business)

The use of social media in the workplace is a controversial topic among leaders at most companies. It's often the practice to not have an official policy - but if you are taking that approach, there is a good chance you are heading to a PR disaster.

Instead of ignoring the fact that most professionals use social media regularly, consider talking about it and guiding employees' use of social media at the workplace.

7 Tips For Guiding Social Media Use At Your Company.

Tip #1: Consider Your Industry - You should tailor your social media policy to your industry. If you work at a tech start-up, moderate social media use may be helpful and encouraged. If you work in an investment office where customers' secure information is at risk, it makes sense to ban social media sites and personal e-mail use.

Tip #2: Think About Your Workforce - Consider the experiences and expectations of those you employ. Those born in the 1980s came of age with Internet technology. If you have thirtysomethings (and twentysomethings) in your office, they were likely taught that computers were a necessary part of communication in the business world.

Social media reinforces this connection, and they're going to want to use it. Plus, the aging baby boomer generation's trends suggest that seniors are using the Internet and social media, particularly on tablets.

Tip #3: Advise Disclaimers - Many corporations employ high-profile social media users who post thoughts and opinions. Their Twitter profiles may even indicate who employs them. You might notice something else about these profiles, though - they say something like "Works for XYZ company; opinions expressed are solely my own." In this fashion, advise your employees to make a clear differentiation between official corporate statements and their own opinions.

Tip #4: Monitor Hashtags And Mentions Of Your Company -Policing social media or even banning access to social media at the office is a much-debated topic. You don't want your employees on Facebook all day, but on the other hand, research has proven that breaks in work and a change of tasks can actually increase productivity.

Instead of banning all use of social media, consider monitoring what is said about your company on social media sites. You can do this in multiple ways, such as:

Tip #5: Provide Guidelines Instead Of Rules - Employees respond much better to guidelines than rules. While you must be clear to be effective, you should also provide your employees with some "dos," such as:

  • Use social media only during your breaks.
  • Moderate use of social media is permitted.
  • Do not access or post offensive photos or text from the office.   
Tip #6: Encourage The Use Of LinkedIn - Are you on LinkedIn? If not, you should be - it's a professional networking site, and a great way for employers and employees to connect without barging into each other's personal lives. LinkedIn is also a great resource for finding industry news and promoting the positive things that are happening at your company. Encourage your employees to use it and create a sense of corporate community and pride on the site to generate employee loyalty.

Tip# 7: Remind Employees Of Social Media Basics - Everyone knows, but at some point, everyone forgets: If you post it on the Internet, it stays on there forever. The information is always traceable and accessible. That said, ask employees to think about social media like a real life conversation. If you wouldn't say it, don't post it.

Executive Summary: When it comes to social media, your company should recognize that employees use it in and out of the office. Provide guidelines and ensure that you are open to discussing social media issues with employees. Facebook isn't something to minimize when the boss walks by - it's a break time relief and a powerful business tool.

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