Get Off Your iPhone!

When I worked for Apple, customers occasionally complained that we were walking around on our iPhones texting and tweeting the whole time (OK, sometimes we were). Whether you run a small coffee shop or a Fortune 100 company, you need a set of rules for employees (and management) that describes how you will approach social media.

He Said What?! 

 – A 37-year old non-profit worker fired for her sex blog

 – Waitress fired for venting about customer on Facebook

 – Cisco employee fired for her tweets

Although these stories are all negative, they don’t have to be. However, to avoid any confusion and to sustain your company’s brand, define your policies before you or your employees tweet, post or blog. Here are four tips to maintaining your voice in the social media realm.

WHO Can Tweet?

Define who is allowed to speak on behalf of the companyRaymond James may not want financial advisors and administrative assistants posting stocks tips and answering customer questions on it’s Facebook page. Define the person or group who speak for the company and let employees know. The voice of the company should come from Public Relations, the Communications Department or the founder of the company.

Fired? All I did was tweet!

WHAT Can They Tweet?

Define what type of information should be tweeted or posted. This information relates to your content strategy. You do not want to use the company social media site to express political or religious opinions. You should use it for sharing information, group discussions or customer service. Comcast even set up a special Twitter account call Comcast Cares (@commcastcares) just for customer service. You may want to share the special of the day or where your food truck will be. Make sure you keep what you are sharing consistent.

WHEN Can They Tweet?

A company’s social media policy should address when its employees can access social media websites such as Pinterest and LinkedIn while at work.  Spell out what sites are acceptable to access during the work day, and when they can access these sites. Avoid blanket statements like “No social media at work.” Employees should be allowed to access social media during breaks or lunch. Instagram and Vine should not be allowed while on the sales floor or manufacturing plant. Spell out the timing in your policy.

HOW Can They Tweet?

Decide your company’s official platforms (e.g. – Twitter, blogging, Google +). Don’t forget to tell employees what is allowed. It may be OK to comment on professional discussions on LinkedIn, but you want to limit political views on Twitter. The solution may be as simple as having employees say, “The views expressed here are my own and not that of Widgets, LLP.”

Bottom line: have a policy no matter how small or big your company is. Confused and need direction? You can also download a Social Media Policy Toolkit fromToolkit Cafe and use their template. Your employees (and customers) will appreciate the clarity of brand.

Scientifically Speaking, of course.

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