So your organization understands the promise of employee advocacy for meeting marketing and sales objectives.
Your next, natural question is: how can you activate and leverage employees and their networks to drive marketing outcomes?
Next up is to launch an employee advocacy program. But this is one big endeavor. If you’re to activate your employees on social media, ensure you have a company-wide social media policy for your employees to follow. Here are some examples to get you started in the right direction.
Why Take the Time to Create a Social Media Policy?
If you’re going to actively manage an employee advocacy program, why is a social media policy necessary?
Simply put, it removes the worry from sharing anything on social media. One of the biggest reasons for low employee advocacy adoption is rooted in the fear of social media. They worry if they say the wrong thing or share the wrong thing, their company or job could be on the line. The reverse is also true: organizations worry due to a communication crisis or create a negative reputation, worse they could break the rules of social media compliance.
However, a good, up-to-date social media policy does more than mitigate risk. It also sets your employees up for success, giving them guidance on how and where to share posts, etiquette to follow, incentives for sharing in the first place and tips for creating engaging posts.
1. Intel details what to do — and what not to do — with social media
Intel’s social media guidelines — made public on the corporate website — make up a crystal clear example of what every social media policy should be. The policy includes words and phrases to avoid, what to do in case of a mistake, key links for employees and more.
The guidelines are explicit without getting into the weeds; they are just as encouraging as they are cautionary. Better yet, the social media guidelines break up the corporate policy into three distinct parts:
1. Disclose your relationship to Intel
The document instructs employees to use the hashtag #IamIntel when posting on social media. According to the guidelines, this “lets people know that you are affiliated with Intel.” But it also goes a long way toward strengthening the Intel brand!
2. Protect Intel
“Protecting Intel is part of your job,” the guidelines state. “Do not post any confidential information on any social platforms. If the information has not been officially released by Intel, don’t discuss it.” Employees are also directed to contact Intel’s social media team when a post is in doubt.
3. Use common sense when posting
Intel doesn’t pull any punches here: “When you are online, you are representing Intel: our people, our values. There is no room for bigotry, prejudice, misogyny, or hatred in our company or on our associated social media feeds.”
2. Best Buy simplifies and philosophizes for its social media policy
The Best Buy social media policy guiding principle is clear: the values and ethics that guide employees in the ‘real’ world are the same as those that guide employees on social media. Even if the document refers to ‘Twittering’ instead of ‘tweeting’, the ideas remain sound.
With its overarching philosophy, Best Buy’s policy is relatively simple, dividing the guidelines into two parts: what employees should do and what employees should never disclose.
Items in the ‘what you should do’ camp include:
- Disclosing your employee affiliation
- Clarifying that statements are your opinion, not representative of Best Buy
- Being careful about the personal information that you share
- Following the retail marketing toolkit when posting offers or promotional content
In contrast, employees are instructed to never disclose operational information and numbers, legal information, customer details and confidential information.
But the policy can be summed up in the three phrases at the top: “Be smart. Be respectful. Be human.”
3. Ford lays out the 11 commandments for social media
Scott Monty was somewhat of a social media pioneer for Ford, back before Facebook hit a billion users and social media became a critical piece of corporate strategy. “Monty has long been a champion of using social media to humanize large organizations by scaling conversations and ultimately building and reinforcing brand trust,” wrote Shel Israel when Monty left Ford.
During the height of his tenure with Ford, Monty shared the essence of the company’s internal social media strategy with Fast Company. The platforms may have shifted, but this is still great stuff:
- Be honest about who you are
- Make it clear that the views expressed are yours
- You speak for yourself, but your actions represent those of Ford Motor Company
- Use your common sense
- Play nice
- The Internet is a public space
- The Internet remembers (i.e., “Whatever happens in Vegas…stays on Google.”)
- An official response may be needed
- Respect the privacy of offline conversations
- Same rules and laws apply: new medium, no surprise
- When in doubt, ask
4. ACFE provides a workable social media policy template
If you’re looking for a full social media policy template, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners — the world’s largest anti-fraud organization — published a full PDF. The document is ready to be adapted for your own company use.
The template could be particularly helpful because it is highly situational. Each bullet point is specific but also points employees to other resources that can guide social media actions. These include the Code of Conduct, employee handbook, HR department, spokespeople and more.
5. Dell boils it all down to a handful of critical pointers
Dell’s social media policy is broken down into six distinct elements, ranging from the more specific Code of Conduct to more general directives like “Be responsible.” Arguably the most important element in the policy is also the first: “Be nice, have fun and connect.”
In this section, Dell is clear in its intention with employee social media use: “The connections you’ll make on social media will be much more rewarding if you remember to have conversations rather than push agendas. Dell has always been a leader in using technology to directly connect with our customers. Social media is another platform you can use to build our brand, just be sure you do it the right way.
This straightforward document stands in stark contrast to something like the social media policy from the US Office of Personnel Management, complete with appendices, required disclaimers, direct message guidelines and more.
You definitely want to be clear about your social media policy. But sometimes less is more, and simple is best.
Align marketing and compliance teams
How can your employees use social media while complying with the rules and regulations that govern our organization?
Collaborate closely with your compliance team to understand the latest regulatory compliance policies and stay in the loop for any ongoing changes. In return, you can also share details on the latest changes across social media marketing and your corporate social media strategy so they can identify any potential risks.
By aligning both departments, you can align on a crystal clear social media policy that fosters the right behaviors for employee advocacy.