How to Draft a Social Media Policy for Employees

Social media policies used to be very common place and they went something like this:

Don’t post any photos or information about us on your social media accounts or you will be reprimanded.

…Um. Great. First of all, very unrealistic. We are social creatures. Almost everyone has a social media account of some sort or another (according to Brandwatch, there are 4.4 billion internet users, 3.499 billion of which are active social media users and on average people have 7.6 social media accounts,) and second – what good does that really do you?

By trying to totally ban your employees from posting about your company or organization on social media you are immediately telling them that you don’t trust them and you are sure you won’t like their opinion about what you’re doing.

Skeptical woman looking at the camera with her glasses pushed down her nose.
You don’t really hire people you don’t trust, do you?

Stop. It’s time for a change in thinking. If you don’t trust or think the opinions of your employees will be positive about your company at least one of the following is true: you’re hiring the wrong employees, or what your company is doing is terrible.

Since I’m going to assume that you don’t hire the wrong people (and don’t keep the wrong people in positions that don’t work for them or for your company) and that your company does in fact treat employees with integrity and does good work for end-users, I’m going to tell you the secret to creating a real social media policy.

Encourage your employees to post about your company and their experience.

This doesn’t mean that everyone has to tweet about you. It doesn’t mean that you should make employees open a Facebook account. But it does mean that you should be open about social media.

Encourage employees to connect with one another on social media. Follow or friend your employees. Social media is public. Your employees will watch what they say, what their coworkers say, and what you say. They will likely help alert you if someone is posting negatively about your organization. You’ll create an engaged workforce that helps monitor social media with you.

Group covered in paint smiling and taking a picture on a cell phone.
Your employees should share the fun they have working for you and helping others!

So here are some elements to crafting a realistic, helpful social media policy that you can include in your employee handbook and during new employee orientation/onboarding:

  • Include the social handles of your company and ask that new employees like and follow the company’s accounts.
  • Give them examples of great tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram stories, SnapChats…etc. from employees that go over why they were great, and how the company responded. (The company account should definitely interact with employee posts by liking them, commenting on them, and even re-sharing them when appropriate.)
  • Ask that they tell you when they see something. Let them know that social media is a big priority in the company and that you take pride in answering customer or user questions or comments. Encourage the employees to let you know when they see posts about the company and to tag the company account when they see it.
  • Ask that when they are in conversation with others about the company that they do not speak for the company (unless they are the social media manager for the organization). While they may want to defend the company (or their own actions) if a customer has left a bad review or leaves a heated comment, you don’t want to let the conversation get out of control. Give them a template to use instead. For example, you may want to encourage them to respond with “I’m sorry you had a bad experience. @CompanyX takes pride in their response to customer needs and I know they would be happy to start a dialogue with you to try and resolve the issue!” That way, they are tagging the company’s social handle without speaking for the company and escalating the concern to the social media manager’s attention who can address the concern with the correct response.
Man taking a selfie
Employees are going to post anyway, make sure you’re encouraging the right types of posts!
  • Ask the employees to share appropriate photos or positive experiences they have had at work. Here again, showing examples is a great way to communicate exactly what you would love to see from employees on social media.
  • Discourage the use of bad language “Our company is the sh*t!” may be positive, but it’s not sharable from the company’s social accounts.
  • Finally, offer resources and training. If someone is interested or has questions about what is OK and isn’t, encourage them to talk to the social media manager. There’s often a lot of grey area about what works and what doesn’t given the time of year, the platform, and the audience that you’re trying to reach. Have your SM manager offer one-on-one training or small sessions. Include a highlight of sharable posts in your internal monthly newsletter. Find a way to make people comfortable and excited about sharing their positive experiences.
Need more convincing? Check out this post from Mashable that goes over the posts from employees that tweeted on their last day of work after the company had to cut 9% of its workforce. Social sharing by employees is bound to happen but if you’re doing things right, even in the worst of times, you’ll can get some touching social posts.

In short, don’t fear your employees posting on social media about the company. Encourage them to do it with grace and joy, give them some guidelines, celebrate those who post sharable content, and offer them ongoing resources. The day in which you could try to dissuade any posting at all is long gone.

I hope you found this post useful! Let me know if you have any questions by leaving me a comment!

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Many of the photos in this post are from Unsplash.com. It’s a great site where you can download royalty-free photos, for free!

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