“It’s easy to remember and so hard to forget”…sang Frank Sinatra.
This is an important characteristic of social communications best practices: Make them memorable and simple to recall and now you’ve won half the battle.
Here’s a story of an IT company that recently created a social media policy. They were growing in leaps and bounds with more and more folks on social channels.
Like a double sided fork, their brand was getting lots of reach because of this. However when someone posts less than optimally, you still get lots of reach, right?
"How do you control this?" the owner of the company asked.
My answer is that you can control by teaching the proper behavior.
Here are some key tenets from the policy that you can adopt for yourself and if you own a company: your employees.
1. Honesty creates credibility in the Social/Digital Media environment. If you are writing about your company, use your real name, identify that you work for the firm, and be clear about your role. If you have a vested interest in what you are discussing, be the first to say so.
2. Never represent yourself or your firm in a false or misleading way. All statements must be true and not misleading; not hearsay.
3. Post meaningful, respectful comments. That means no spam or remarks that are off-topic or offensive. All postings related to your company should be respectful to the organization and posted as company-appropriate commentary.Use common sense and common courtesy.
4. Stick to your area of expertise, and do feel free to provide your unique, individual perspectives and expertise on non-confidential activities. If you would like to make a post or comment regarding a specific topic that is not within your specific area of expertise but feel it is relevant and brand worthy, seek advice at any time from your marketing department or ask how to best promote this topic of interest.
5. When disagreeing with others' opinions, keep it appropriate and polite. If you find yourself in a situation online that looks as if it’s becoming antagonistic, do not get overly defensive and do not disengage from the conversation abruptly.
6. When attending a company-sponsored event, you are encouraged to network and take photographs for postings that portray event attendees, guests and honorees, as well as activities. Alcohol related photos are NOT considered the best representation of our activities and are not encouraged. Keep this best practice in mind: ask yourself before posting any pictures or commentary on images, “Is this a picture best suited for corporate posting or personal posting?”
7. If you want to write about your competition or business partners, make sure you behave diplomatically, have the facts straight and obtain the appropriate permissions.
8. And last, never comment on anything related to legal matters, or any parties your firm may be in litigation with.
Bottom line? You can’t forbid communications in a transparent, free market society, but you can make sure that every employee is trained on best practices and proper behavior for social media.
[Leadarati helps IT firms drive value and increase opportunities through social, digital and online communications.]