One of the most common reasons given for not adopting a social business model is risk. Risk that the brand will be damaged by something someone posts; risk that there will be trouble if an employee posts something controversial.
According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, employee-employer trust is at it's strongest, the report states:
"Employees who have trust in their employer are far more likely to engage in beneficial actions on their behalf—they will advocate for the organization (a 39-point trust advantage), are more engaged (33 points), and remain far more loyal (38 points) and committed (31 points) than their more skeptical counterparts."
This highlights the benefits of empowering your employees to use social media and how doing so allows employers to reciprocate this trust in employees.
But as mentioned above, what about the potential risks to brand reputation?
The bottom line is, risk is hindering advocacy. It’s often perceived to be more trouble than it’s worth – from both the employer and employee point of view.
However, there’s a relatively simple solution, which a surprising number of companies seem to ignore. A social media policy can go a very long way to mitigating many of these risks.
Read on for four steps to a risk-free* social business.
*Well, almost risk-free. We can’t remove all risk, it’s just not possible. But, when the proverbial does hit the fan, it’s all about how you deal with it to minimise collateral damage.
1. Understand What The Real Risks Are
There are a few areas where poorly trained employees (or a poorly implemented advocacy program) could get it wrong. Sharing inappropriate or inaccurate content; criticising a customer, supplier or competitor; sharing commercially sensitive information; each of these examples will strike fear into your decision makers and instantly convince them that operating an employee advocacy program isn’t worth the risk.
But surely it’s pretty obvious that these things are a bad idea? Well, yes, the chances are this type of clanger will have been a genuine mistake. If we use a bit of common sense and take time to think our posts through (and have been through some good training so that we know what to expect from social media) these are the sort of errors that can absolutely be avoided.
The thing is, your people are socially active anyway so it’s just good business practice to help them work out what does and doesn’t work for you as an employer. But how?
The short answer is, by ensuring that your people understand what is and isn’t acceptable through training and the creation of a social media policy that can be referenced and re-referenced.
2. Protect Your Brand Against The Risks
Your first step in providing a cushion for your brand is to write a social media policy. Look how easy we made that sound! In fact, the simpler your policy is, the better it will work. We've created a downloadable social media policy pack, including customisable policy template, ideal for those looking to implement a social media policy for the first time, or review and refresh an existing one.
In reality, a social media policy is little more that a document which collects together all of those common sense rules about how and what you should and shouldn’t be posting. The harder part is making sure you’ve got everyone on board with the policy, that they understand it, and that you have a record that they’ve seen it and will continue to refer to it if they’re ever in doubt. But more on that later.
A social media policy should be a list (perhaps made slightly more interesting with some examples of good and bad, perhaps?) of the simple, basic do’s and don’t’s. Highlighting what is and isn’t acceptable will help your people to remember they are posting on behalf of the brand in this case; it’s not their own personal page where they can indulge rants and soapbox moments. They can save that for the comfort of their sofa one evening.
Your social media policy also needs to cover where people should go for advice if they’re unsure about a post. You can put as much colour and flavour in to the document as you like; in fact it’s more likely to be understood and followed if people can identify with it and if they fully understand it. Make it easy for your people to get it right.
3. Engage Your Employees In The Way You Do Social Media
At Tribal, we’re big fans of using a mix of learning scenarios. Some people react much better (as subsequently learn more) from live examples, experiences, role-plays and so on, while others prefer to read material and answer some questions to reinforce their learning. Whichever your preference, it’s imperative to make sure your people understand your social media policy and can use it to understand the difference between a game changing post and one that just means it’s game over.
So, give everyone some scenario-based learning: put them into situations where they need to choose their reaction. They’ll learn more quickly by doing and the training will come flashing back if they come across a real-life situation that matches it.
We offer interactive eLearning that’s also trackable and measurable. This enables you to chart people’s progress and find out who needs a little top up now and again. Talking of which, you should make sure you have an audit trail for all this training so you have the required evidence that you’ve discharged your duty as an employer.
4. Make It Part Of Your Journey- never park your policy and leave it behind
Make sure your social media policy is visible and easy to access. Leave printed versions around the office so that people know where to find one, or do a desk drop so everyone has one to hand.
Equally, don’t ‘file’ your policy in internet oblivion, put it somewhere on your system that’s easy to find and access. That way, you can follow up on your training, perhaps through other comms channels such as the intranet or newsletter.
Ask the odd question to find out whether people are up to speed, offer a small reward for the first correct answer. Run a regular quiz to encourage healthy competition and make the policy a talking point.