Social Media Etiquette and Policy

Kat Sonson By Kat Sonson

Social media gets a bit political (literally) sometimes. When individuals believe they are right and battle those they believe are wrong online, there are a load of mixed messages that can send businesses into a faff when it comes to defending their staff on their use of social media. Not so many years ago you could shout on social media and no-one really took that much notice. Users would shout in the name of love, peace and war, and all the things they supported or in fact didn't support, in the hope of getting attention and starting a movement. Nowadays, you shout about love, peace and war, buy the ads and you could get the attention for all the wrong reasons.

Today it would seem having “views my own” in your bio are not enough. But should it be? Social media networks have this democracy, this unspoken freedom with words, gifs, images and video content. This can be a good thing or, as we have seen in the case of Jemele Hill in the US, a bad thing. Whilst Ms Hill’s case is unique, it hasn’t stopped corporations, such as the New York Times, reviewing their social media policy. Is it perhaps time you looked at yours?

Here’s the thing, users do use it to display their love or hate of the weather, the weather-man or woman, the channel the weather was on, down to whomever owns the tv network that the weather was on; and usually that someone is employed by a company, and that someone, whether they like it or not, is a brand ambassador for the company they work for - offline and online, in working hours or out. So what do you do as an employer? Firstly, do you have a social media policy in place? We suggest you liaise with your HR manager to organise this. Your policy will outline the guidelines through which your employees should take into consideration.

In your personal Twitter bio include a one-liner such as “views expressed are my own and not of my employer”. Whilst this is not a complete safeguard for your staff to overstep the boundaries, it is a small step in employee/employer compliance. You could even consider a separate handle for personal and business, eg @KatPersonal, @KatEstateApps (these are not real user accounts). This can be hard to manage, with some users not liking to have to operate from two aliases; and to be honest lots of mistakes have been made when one sends a post from the company profile and not their personal page. To be fair all it takes is for the user to be aware and not in such a hurry to post the innocuous details of their Saturday night to the company profile. Audiences and users appreciate authenticity and transparency from a brand, but there is a fine line if you are representing the brand or company. If in doubt, don’t shout it out.

In addition to the social media policy, you need to be aware of social media etiquette. Hootsuite recently wrote an article on the types of words that are, for want of a better word, “cool”. If you’re brand or company isn’t “cool” then we beg of you - do not use words like ‘“lit” or “fam” in your posts! More than anything you are at the risk of actually sounding “old”! Professional, business, marketing terminology is probably best suited and representative of who you are online.

Social media is all about relationships and networking, it is also fun and democratic but in a world where speaking freely online can cost you your job, it’s better to be protected than not. We hope you found this useful, do let us know how implementing your social media policy has gone in your workplace.

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