What to do once your firm’s social media policy is written

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Image by Crystl via Flickr

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about how to write your firm’s social media policy. How it was important, first and foremost, for firms to have a social media policy. And  that it is best to involve employees throughout the process of developing and implementing it.

For any firm, a social media policy is sensible. Your employees are already all using social media, they are talking to each other on their, they  might say who they work for, they are giving advice to friends and maybe to customers. Having a vibrant and active set of employees online is great for any firm, but a simple set of guidelines helps both the brand and also the employees.

But once you have your social media policy written, that’s not the end of the story. It should be a living document, and critically one that your employees buy into an believe in. You want use of social media to become part of your employees lives. And you want your brand to benefit from this involvement, from having employees active in social media and from having conversations about them, you and your brand. So writing a policy is just the first step. Below are four steps to help ensure that, once you have it written, your firm’s social media strategy stays relevant and beneficial to your organisation.

1. Make it a visible, shareable document

The main purpose of any social media strategy should be to encourage employees to use social media, to help them do this, and to help them do it in a way that protects them and the brand they work for. As such it isn’t so much a static policy to be filed away somewhere; rather, it should be a living document that is easy for people to find, read and make suggestions for.

2. Have an internal social media champion

Have an internal social media champion in your firm. Or have many. They should be the first port of call for people  if they have a query about what they should, or shouldn’t be doing. They should make sure people know about the policy and help others to understand it. But, perhaps more importantly, they should be be encouraging  people to use social media, to try new things and to innovate. It’s important for your firm to stay abreast of changes in social media, and  to make sure you have a serious and committed presence online. Your employees are your best representatives; get them out there.

3. Talk about social media success

Social media shouldn’t be an add-on; it should be part of what you do. Maybe it helps you to solve customers’ problems more quickly, maybe there’s been a great conversation about your brand, or maybe somebody just had a great idea that you found out about. Make sure you are taking every opportunity to champion success stories and people in your firm using social media well. Talk about it often to reinforce how important it is and to encourage people to try new things.

4. Keep things moving

The worst thing that can happen to your social media policy is that it becomes out-of-date. And as social media and our use of it online is changing so rapidly, this is a real danger. So make sure you keep things moving, work with your champions to keep abreast of what people are doing, and where they are doing it. Allow employees to comment on and make suggestions for your policy. But, perhaps most important, is to make sure your policy is written about behaviours and not specific social media tools. We may all be talking about Twitter  right now, but soon it will be something else.

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How to write your firm’s social media policy

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Image by late night movie via Flickr

In our last post we looked at why every business needs a social media policy. And the fact that the most important thing for any business is to have a policy in the first place. But if you’re writing your social media policy for employees, what should it include? What kind of guidelines should you give the people who work at your business.

At FreshNetworks, our approach is to keep things simple and to make them inclusive. Have a simple and clear policy on how employees should be using social media and make sure you include your employees in the process of drawing them up. Oh, and make sure your policy encourages your employees to use social media more and not less.

Here are five considerations we discuss with clients when developing their social media policies and guidelines that might help you if you are developing yours:

1. Encourage your employees to take part online

Your best representatives should be your own staff and so any social media policy should actively encourage them to take part online. Show them ways to share their opinions and enter discussions and debates. Encourage them to write a blog if they are keen (and perhaps provide a place for them to do so). Let them become comfortable online because they will be some of your strongest defenders in discussions about your brand.

2. Discourage discussion of what is happening internally

All employees will be privy to discussions, debates, meetings and decisions that are not public knowledge. That might not even be known by many other people in the organisation. Let your employees know that they may learn some things as part of their role that others don’t. And that these are not things you would expect to share with their colleagues over the watercooler, let alone online.

3. Encourage them open and honest about who you are online

The best policy online is openness and honesty. You will be quickly found out if you claim to be something or somebody you are not. Encourage your employees to be open about who they are and who they work for. This is good for them (if they are talking about something related to their work people will credit them with more knowledge). Encourage them to do this even if they are writing about something totally un-workrelated. They should say who they work for, and that what they are saying is nothing at all to do with their job!

4. Discourage arguments and disputes online

It is very difficult in social media to have an argument with somebody. It quickly descends into confusion and conflict. Encourage your employees to take part in debate and discussions but to steer clear of arguments. Whether they are talking about your brand or not it’s best to not to post anything emotional. Wait a day and consider it again.

5. Make sure employees know the best route for their opinions

Many businesses find that their employees use social media to raise issues, concerns or opinions about their employer. This is usually because they don’t know the best way of having their voice heard. Part of your social media strategy should be a clarification of the different routes available for them to have their voice heard. Some things are best aired in social media, and some things will be dealt with a lot quicker and a lot better if you raise them in other ways.

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