Many questions pop up with this, like: Do I even need to have a social media work policy in place? If, yes: Do you regulate your staff’s social accounts with the precision of Kim Jong-un? OR do you ask nice and hope for the best? Let’s explore some points.
In most cases small business owners will be convinced that, because they are located in a small town, no one uses it or it doesn’t matter. Unfortunately that may not be the case. And by thinking that way you can shoot yourself in the foot.
Things changed so much in the past couple of years, faster than one might expect or be aware of, so fast you maybe haven’t considered why you should get a social media work policy in place asap.
Turns out, that if you are in a smaller town, this can have a much more adverse effect on your business, and you might be setting yourself up to learn this one the hard way.
In the case where you run a small business, and have one or 2 friends and family members as employees, you most likely know what is going on in everyone’s life, no real concerns there. If you have a couple more employees, and you are not already friends on social media, what then?
Will you have problems? what do you have to consider?
There is no real difference between how you used to run and now, it’s more a case of things that applied in the past still applies, but much more amplified in every way. Keeping that in mind, we can take an example pre-social media, and compare it to a scenario with social media at this time.
If you ever lived in a smaller community, you will know how quickly gossip travels, some times others know things about you, before you know it. IF you ever managed a business in a small town, you will know how quickly you can win or lose the fight because of gossip.
It is not only gossip.
Other things to consider will be:
- Distraction or not
I am sure this list can go on, and it will most likely grow in the future, but for now we sticking with these.
Implementing a social media policy
Like any policy you must be able to police it. So, how intense do you do it? In a good scenario you will have your policies ready by the time you start employing, putting it into place may turn out a bit more tricky.
One place we can learn something about security, will be in a countries arsenal. Super powers, like America and Russia and all the others, depend on the superiority of their military forces to “Scare” or PROOF to other country, that even trying to invade will be a bad idea. A concept often not understood, but it’s as basic as they get. Make sure your enemies know that you have more, stronger, bigger, faster bombs, and that in itself becomes the deterrent.
Taking from this philosophy, you will not need to bomb any one and everyone can work together in harmony. This works if done right. You don’t want to threaten anybody with consequences, but still let them be aware that certain actions will yield defined consequences.
Making all employees surrender all their accounts, will not only be a huge undertaking to try to manage, that’s just wrong, in many ways. I’m saying this because I have met people who asked about this or even tried to enforce it. Bad idea.
In short: you want to be ready, well secured and well within the boundaries of human rights.
These stories can results in unthinkable endings, when you least expect it. If you have computers, you need to make sure the operators knows what must go where. If it happens that the employee accidentally email your financial statements to your 3ooo subscribers, you don’t want them to simply claim they did not know what they where doing.
Security can be applied in various ways, you can regulate outgoing traffic, monitor things, security makes out a big part of network configuration. Keep in mind that security does not apply to networks and software, but the physical element is just as important, don’t leave your company server standing on the desk in reception!!!
Depending on how secure you want to go, access must be controlled, it is always a good idea to stipulate access details, rights and permissions in your policy, and at the same time make sure your important servers, hubs, switches etc. are only accessible to those with permission.
You going to have a hard time recovering anything if you leave your computers open for anyone, why create opportunities?
When you know what you want to do with your social activity, you can only make life easier for everyone, when including a written model of your goals in your policy. Making sure that your employees know what the plan is becomes important. Firstly for the person that will be doing the posting and secondly all your other staff.
Rallying support under your employees can give your efforts a good boost. With that said, you have to be equally awake for comments that defeats your object. Both disgruntled and uninformed employees can cause damage to your campaigns, in many ways.
Trying to restrict employees on everything you are trying to avid, may not always work, because it can be limitless. Providing the persons involved with training and help, making sure everyone understand the plan, while focusing on what you want to happen, will be easier to manage.
The take-away here: find ways to clarify and support your social efforts.
You do not really want your employees to directly support your opposition. Can you restrict and regulate them not to, interact with certain place? Not really, actually, I will go with No – Doesn’t work and you may even get the opposite to your desired result.
Then how to go about competitors and their social efforts? Once again, if you have all your people on your side and on the same page, chances are you won’t experience problems.
What to do? Start by not including these kind of restrictions in your policy, but go the opposite direction. Incorporate your competitor benchmarking strategy and create ways to get your people to help keep an eye on the competition.
Not setting restrictions, does not mean you can’t keep an eye on things. It only makes sense to move this responsibility to the one person in charge of posting to social networks. Keeping an eye means making a list of things to check for.
It will be a lost battle trying to list every possible thing that can go wrong, luckily you can keep track with in-house posts to your site or use a spreadsheet, any way that suits you. The important bit here is that you want to be able to build a knowledge base, something that can be grown and edited.
As new tricks, scams, trolls and basically anything you can identify as potentially dangerous to your campaign comes up, list them. This should give you a fair amount of data to use for planning, complaint handling, and managing your social side, while keeping your corporate reputation pointing in the right direction.
Here are some of the more obvious and regular things to look out for:
- How well does your opposition’s campaigns work? If they fail, why must you fail to check if it is going to fail? Unless you know why and fix it.
- Basics – appropriate etiquette during engagements, you want to be just as professional in your online conversations as in your shop, no difference there.
- Comment spam, both ways, you don’t want to give neither receive anything spam, maybe do some homework, on this.
- Trolls and smear campaigns against your business, with everyone keeping an eye open, try to discover these fast, and get it sorted out quietly, attacking back will not help you much.
Distraction or not
Many decision makers in small to medium-sized businesses are against the use of social media and online applications at work. This sometimes makes sense, but what if you can make daily operations easier and more efficient by allowing online interventions by staff while on duty?
In conclusion, you have to decide if you can use social media, and if yes – how will you manage everything. We have long passed the point where you can disregard social media without it having an effect on your business. Every business must have a social media work policy in place.