One by one, companies are starting to adopt social media as another channel to reach clients, prospects and employees. These organizations are setting up Facebook pages, establishing YouTube channels and Twitter feeds to supplement more traditional channels – advertising, press releases, employee newsletters, etc.
However, a significant percentage of companies are resisting the urge to “get social.” I suspect much of that resistance is due to fear – fear that a disgruntled customer will wage an online smear campaign or that employees will post embarrassing content on a public or company site.
“Look what happened to Domino’s!” is a common refrain.
I don’t want to minimize these concerns. Disgruntled customers and unruly employees are real problems for any business. But the fact is that these problems existed well before the advent of MySpace and spam emails, and most companies have well-established practices and policies to address the problems.
So rather than avoiding social media, companies should, at minimum, adopt a social media code of conduct that will provide guidelines for using social media on company time and on behalf of the organization.
A social media code of conduct doesn’t have to be an encyclopedic compendium of every possibility. In fact, it can be as simple as an addendum to a current code of conduct or social media policy.
Wherever it resides in the corporate structure, a social media code of conduct needs to define – in very clear terms – how the company expects their employees to behave online. For example:
- Courtesy: Employee-posted content should be professional and free of objectionable material and profanity.
- Confidentiality: Employees should never disclose confidential information internally or externally.
- Transparency: Employees responding to comments on a public site must clearly identify themselves as employees of your organization.
A well-crafted social media code of conduct will provide structure and ensure that employees are aware of expected standards of behavior and the negative consequences of misconduct. And that security should pave the way for expanding the company’s social media presence.