Back in 2009 an employee of the advertising agency, Ketchum, arrived in Memphis to meet with FedEx, one of the agency’s biggest clients. As he exited his airplane he Tweeted:
True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say “I would die if I had to live here! 2:58 PM Jan 14th
Ironically this employee was a member of Ketchum’s Social Media Team and was there to go over digital media trends. And yet he didn’t realize how much of a firestorm he would create. The client got wind of his critique and it put his agency in danger of losing a very lucrative and prestigious account. It was bit of a tempest in a teacup and it all worked out in the end but this highlights a very real and ever-growing issue with employers.
What Is Your Company’s Social Media Policy?
If you don’t have one you should probably consider putting one in place pretty quickly. Whether you have five employees, fifty or five thousand it only takes one (see above example and wince) to endanger a company’s relationships. Be firm in your directives but also realize that the genie is out of the bottle and people will talk, post or Tweet whether you like it or not. Your job is to put a policy in place that will keep the disasters to a minimum.
The policy can be as detailed as you want but simple is better:
Promoting our company through social media is wonderful but we don’t require it unless you’re feeling it.
We value your expertise and hope you will represent the company as a subject matter expert.
If referencing the company state clearly that you work there.
Don’t disclose sensitive company information.
Don’t mention a co-worker without their permission.
Don’t badmouth our clients or our competition.
Don’t speak in any sort of official capacity for the company.
If you find yourself in a situation that you think is getting out of hand contact the PR department or senior management.
Do not respond to other social media posts that reference the company in a negative way. We appreciate that you want to stand up for us but just let us know and we’ll take care of it.
Best Buy has a great directive at the end of their surprisingly short social media policy:
Remember: protect the brand, protect yourself.
It’s straightforward and elegant and tells employees that they aren’t restricting their self-expression but they do need to issue rules and guidelines when it comes to company reputation and relationships.
Looking for more great social media policy examples? How about 195 of them.