If you are just starting the journey of encouraging more employees to be active on social media, you might be asking ‘how do I encourage my employees to be professional when posting?’ And, ‘how do I protect the brand reputation of my company?’.
The case for employees using their own voices to strengthen brand voices (employee advocacy) is stronger than ever – this year. 90% of B2B social media marketing strategies will incorporate scaled employee advocacy programs. Source.
The first step is to provide guidelines for employees who post content online rather than a strict set of rules. These guidelines can help protect both the organisation and its employees by outlining appropriate behaviour.
It's also important to provide training and support for employees who are new to social media or who may be hesitant to participate. Focusing on the positive impact that social media can have for both employees and the organisation, helps to create a culture of authentic communication that benefits everyone.
1. Seek Permission
Be sure employees understand image usage rights, copyright, and other legal constraints. When using images of people, ask their permission before posting – people are generally happy to be featured and this is a good way of encouraging them to share too.
2. Remain Confidential
Make sure employees are aware of confidentiality when it comes to company and customer-related information. Sharing your company or client’s confidential financial data or revealing new product updates before the official launch should be avoided.
3. The No-Go Areas
Make sure employees understand that they must respect their audiences and should not share images, videos, or any content that could be deemed as being racially, ethically, or sexually abusive.
4. Follow Your Company Brand Guidelines
This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget you are representing not only yourself but also the company you work for.
5. Focus On Facts
Don’t get pulled into negative discussions, or worse, arguments. Sticking to facts puts you in a neutral position and helps to build trust. It’s also a good idea to research posts to ensure accuracy.
6. Be Yourself!
Encourage employees to talk in the first person on social media. Social networking is what it says...social. Adding your own voice to social channels increases trust within your network and makes it clear that you’re a real person with real interests and ideas.
7. Follow Us
Encourage your employees to follow your branded social channels. It is a great place for the less confident employees to start engaging in content that is ‘safe’.
8. Be Helpful
Make sure that content is relevant and educates buyers about subjects that will interest them. Add value to your content by sharing both branded and 3rd party articles, tips, guides, and reports.
9. Oops...Now What?
Tell employees to be the first person to respond to mistakes. Don't leave it and wait. Tell them that if they've made a mistake on social media make some headway towards fixing it and setting the record straight. Still not happy? Contact the social media team.
10. Use Common Sense
Remind employees that if they use their best judgement and common sense when engaging on social media, they won't go far wrong - this is how they already operate day-to-day.
11. Respect The Offline Rule
Not everyone wants to have their photo shared all over social media. You should advise your employees to give some thought to the conversations that they have offline with colleagues or customers, giving them guidance around maintaining the privacy of those conversations.
12. Monitoring Feeds
Be sure that you tell your employees that any activity they participate in on social media may appear in the brand’s social monitoring feeds (assuming you have them!) and that it is likely that their participation may feature in the monitoring feed.
13. Customer Protocols
Explain to employees that they should never commit the company to resolution - take it offline. It's not right nor reasonable to expect employees to commit the brand to follow up on something specific without doing due diligence or further investigation. Just remind the employees of customer service protocols for dealing with complaints.
14. Remember The Day Job
It's easy to get swallowed up in social networking so just remind folks that it's there to assist their role, so you expect responsible social media usage during working hours.
15. Signpost To Training
Let your employees know where they can find further training and guidance on social media best practices and remind them again of how the training may help their careers and professional brand.
16. Know Your Skills
If you get approached by the press, refer them to the Communications team. Engaging may mean you disclose something you shouldn’t, however good your intentions are. Be polite and point them in the right direction.
17. Your Own Views
By stating on your profile your views are your own, you help to protect the reputation of your company in any circumstances where you do express an opinion.
18. Competitor Awareness
Employees should avoid sharing competitors’ content as this can undermine the business's brand reputation. Keep competitor insights internal. This sounds relatively obvious but with so much content out there, it is worth checking the source before posting.
19. Share The Knowledge
If employees are unsure how to answer a question, use this as an opportunity to tag a colleague or peer who you know can answer the question, therefore adding value to the enquirer.
20. Enjoy ItEmployees that activate their professional brand online will open up new opportunities e.g. speaking opportunities, new customers, and learning from others. It's a great way to connect and build their own network...for them. Remind them to enjoy the process!
All that said, the proof is in the execution.
Don't write the document, host it on the intranet and hope folks find it. Encourage employees to collaborate in building the guidelines. Have a launch party. Do a desk drop.
Use the re-launch as an excuse to find your social superstars and potentially your best advocates. Combine guideline training with personal brand training to engage the audience in something that helps them develop.
For more inspiration, check out these:
- Monzo: Despite being bound by regulatory rules, this bank knows how to guide people to do the right thing.
- Coca-Cola: A bit formal but easy to read and not too long.
If you need any assistance in creating a set of guidelines for employee social media or indeed launching an employee advocacy program within your organisation, please do not hesitate to reach out.
I am seriously passionate about helping people and organizations achieve social business success. Let's talk - email@example.com
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2021 and has recently been revamped.