Let me start this post by saying that careers have been made and lost on social media.
With that in mind, I am sure most of us have had something to say about recent political events this week. Or maybe before this week we got passionate about a controversial topic like breast-feeding, or immunizations (two topics sure to start a riot bigger than any Hillary Clinton supporter can rustle up).
But as emotions run high, it is sometimes hard to separate our professional and social personas. Trust me I am guilty of an emotional tweet or two (some would say more). However for the most part I can only do damage to myself as I am a freelance consultant.
That is not the case for two unfortunate clients this week who have had to deal with employees posting questionable content on social accounts where the account clearly links them to their place of employment. The result of which was either a bombardment on the company’s social account (by association) or as in one extreme case, a calling for customers to cancel subscriptions which could lead to a loss of revenue. Below I have written some general guidelines for social that you may wish to consider using when reviewing and setting your social policies or responses to any crises.
In the event of a social disturbance, I have advised my clients to shut down further speculation by acknowledging the disturbance and where appropriate making a statement that the views of employees on their personal social account are their own and not endorsed or associated with the company (your legal teams should advise you as to the appropriate wording). Trust me, the worst thing you can do is to ignore activity like this, as you may be accused of endorsing such activity. But MUCH more important than that is to remind your employees that they are your brand ambassadors, and that you may not look favorably on social activities that may damage your company and/or reputation by association. Simply following these rules should minimize any chances of unpleasantness.
1. You are able to add unlimited admins to your company pages, however note that an admin is added once someone follows the business account from their PERSONAL account. Therefore admins should be trained to use the posting feature properly and understand how to make sure they are “posting as page” before submitting any post.
2. When you post on a FB page it will show all admins (but not the public), which admin is responsible for the post in case of a need for moderation.
3. Because Facebook allow this PERSONAL/PROFESSIONAL differentiation and because Facebook is considered a PERSONAL social tool, it is advisable that your admins and staff refrain from associating their personal profiles with their place of employment in their “about” information. This is not to say they should not be encouraged to share content associated with topics in their industry.
4. It would not hurt you to run a social media training for all your staff as part of your advocacy programme, and show them how to use FB as FB intended people to use it. All “friends” can be categorized into groups. If there is a particularly sensitive post, or geographically relevant post and a FB user only wants relevant “friends” to see that post, as long as they have taken the time to categorize all their friends, then they can segment the targeting to the relevant audience. NOT EVERY POST IS MEANT TO BE PUBLIC.
1. It is generally encouraged that if a person intends to use their account mainly for posting topics relating to their professional interests, that they refrain from posting personal things or at the very minimum moderate themselves to make sure their content is not offensive or could cause damage to the company. Many companies have a social policy prepared by the legal team that employees are asked to sign before they start working there. There are many people who have two personas on Twitter, one for work and one for personal posts.
2. If a person chooses to use their account for personal purposes, it is advisable that they remove all references to their place of profession or at the very least put a disclaimer there, such as “my opinions are my own,” as you will see many journalists doing. The last thing you want is someone with very strong political or questionable views appearing to post on behalf of your company and or by association.
1. There is only one acceptable purpose for LinkedIn and that is professional. Any employee worrying about their current place of work or future work opportunities, should be reminded that their social profile (and any abuse or questionable use of it) will follow them around. Although the social feed on LI is becoming more prominent and used, it still remains very much professional in nature. Therefore, it is advisable that employees are discouraged from using LI to post any personal content, unless directly connected to their professional topics of interest.
2. Once the above guidelines are clear, employees should be encouraged to link their profile clearly to their place of work. There should be no furry lines here.
Forgive me if I have stated the obvious above, but I would hate to see anyone blindsided with a crisis the way one of my clients was this morning when they started receiving hundreds of subscription cancellations from clients because of a social misuse case with an employee by association.
Let’s pray for quieter times and a continuing social growth for all. It really is a powerful tool when used appropriately.