In today’s market, you don’t have to be a tech or marketing startup to be impacted by social media. Social media is not only accessible but is most likely an active tab on one of your employee’s browsers. In most work environments it is almost impossible to block people from checking, updating and/or commenting on any social network. With this in mind, having a clear set of social media guidelines is crucial for any company. Knowing the difference between creating a social media policy or a set of social media guidelines is a very important difference.
So this begs the question, “What can a company do about it?”
- A company can set up strict guidelines that make social media as intriguing as the prohibition made alcohol;
- create a write-up process of strict discipline measures and regulations;
- or empower team members in their social realms.
From our experience, the third option is the only one that will work. Creating a document for the sole purpose of telling people what not to do and/or what they can say will make it incredibly difficult to get buy-in from your team. This can also affect your business or your employees with a correct implementation of social media engagement. Your goal is to protect your brand from employees who might misrepresent your values while ensuring you maintain team morale.
Using Social Media Guidelines as a Growth Hack
The goal of this blog is to demonstrate standard social media guidelines and a completely different method that can turn your employees into a mini sales force. It is very possible to empower your team to adhere to the principles and pillars of your company. It is possible to empower each member of your team to be an expert in their respective field online. While this may not apply to all businesses, we found it beneficial to our business.
What is growth hacking?
In this context, growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business. Growth hacking refers to a set of both conventional and unconventional marketing experiments that lead to growth of a business.
Set social media guidelines for employees that promote company culture
The goal of creating social media guidelines is not to parrot best practices for blocking websites within schools or businesses. The goal of creating social media guidelines is to create clear standards to empower employees to understand the culture of the company clearly and to adhere to those principles when posting online. I know what you’re thinking and I agree, “How can an employer control what an employee posts?” It’s one thing to have an expectation for what an employee can say when they are representing the business or brand. It is a completely different conversation when an employee posts about politics, religion, culture, music, movies or a personal issue.
Obviously, employees post about topics they care about and that are personal to them. As an employer, how are you casting your vision to employees to help deter them from harmful topics and steer them toward posts that represent them personally and the company in a positive light?
Social media guidelines, not social media policy
It is important for companies to be proactive and lay out clear expectations and guidelines for all employees. This is because when an employee chooses to list their employer on their social media profiles, they are telling the world they work for and represent your company. Gone are the days of separating business and personal lives, and oh, by the way, we can thank social media for that. Every action they take on social (whether the employee knows it or not), is now done with the company’s name attached to it.
Setting social media guidelines and rules are a proactive way for employers to empower employees on their social media accounts while setting clear expectations. Trust me, I am all about free speech. Heck, I even ran and syndicated my own radio show for years before Striventa. So if anyone should be opposed to what I am discussing here, it’s me. However, with the evolution that is social media, I believe fully that this in no way will hinder your employee’s free speech, but rather teach them and show them how they can be a positive force online while representing who they work for with those company principles.
Examples of social media guidelines that empower
Now that you’ve made it to the juicy part of the blog, it’s time to give you three practical ways you can empower employees to take to social media with messages that are positive, reflect the company culture and brand their work for.
What do your employees care about the most and how does this tie into the culture of your company? At Striventa, we believe in the core pillars of integrity, tenacity, and passion. We believe that all three pillars must act in unison to provide our clients with the best possible product possible. Come up with a fun way for employees to hashtag company events, meetings, collaboration sessions and more!
Company Hashtags: NextNet Partners has done an incredible job at building a company culture on their social media profiles. On their website, Striventa embedded their Twitter feed with the hashtag #NNPFUN so that any time an employee is having fun, they can post about it and it will automatically populate to the company’s About page.
Your employees can be your biggest advocates
Which employees embody the culture and vision of your company? And how can you compliment them publicly for their network to see? This strategy is critical in not just welcoming them online but creating a post specifically about the good works they do and the great person they are. This will also solidify in their mind that they are representing your company even when they are posting on their personal profile.
Employee Showcase: Arrowhead Health Centers showcases its employees to patients in a way that empowers employees and helps patients get to know the staff on a deeper level. The Arrowhead Health Centers culture is embodied by this phrase, “Put People First and People Get Healthy” and their employee highlight campaign is called, “People Who Put You First.” This campaign is always a most-shared item on their social pages and allows for new business engagement within their circles. Lastly, it has given the employees a chance to shine in a seemingly large organization.
Motivate your employees
Who doesn’t love a good old fashion pizza party? I can tell you who: our office. Why? Too many health-conscious employees running around … We prefer salad parties instead. In all seriousness though, throwing things alike pizza parties or handing out gift cards are highly effective ways to incentivize your staff. Every company is different, but you can post a monthly social media contest that will encourage employees to post about something great at your company and build traction to drive their social media traffic to a page on your site or a landing page.
Infographic contest: An example of a fun contest would be to have all employees post a fun infographic that your company has done on its services and offerings and seeing how many like and shares an employee can get to their own post. You have to be very specific in the verbiage, image, and link that will be posted so everyone has the same opportunity to win. This tactic will further solidify them as an employee of the company and help them understand that they represent your company. You can reward two employees with the most likes and shares on their posts.
Social media guidelines for your employees
Once you have fully empowered your staff, you can continue to reinforce more strict guidelines. This will allow employees to see the balance and understand the importance of adhering to all guidelines. The best way to showcase great examples of this tactic is from three international companies.
Intel on disclosure:
“When you are posting about Intel or Intel products, include the hashtag #IamIntel. This lets people know that you are affiliated with Intel (disclosure is required by the Federal Trade Commission). Just putting Intel in your biography is not enough!”
Adidas on respecting your audience:
“Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the Adidas Group’s workplace. You should also show proper consideration for others privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory (like religion or politics). If you are in a virtual world as an Adidas Group representative please dress and behave accordingly. We all appreciate respect.”
Best Buy on protecting internal communication:
“You should never disclose Internal communication regarding drive times, promotional activities or inventory allocations. Including advance ads, drive time playbooks, holiday strategies, and Retail Insider editions.”
Creating clear social media guidelines that aren’t roadblocks
So what is the best way to put together social media guidelines for your brand or business?
First, your brand needs to have a clear idea of how they want to be heard. Second and most importantly, a business has to tell their employees what they expect them to do.
- What are the goals for your brand or business?
- What are your values?
- Who is your audience?
- Does your audience share your values?
- Does your business have certain sensitive information or trade secrets that you do not want to be shared?
- Do you have a social media strategy?
- What types of things could hinder that strategy?
- How do your guidelines empower your brand and employees?
As a company, we believe that it is crucial to let our employees know how we expect them to act. It is also very important to us to clearly define our company goals and values to every person that represents the Striventa brand. In fact, by clearly communicating these goals and principles, we have been able to include employees from all departments in our social media strategy. If your company is small (meaning 5-20 people), you can try this particular strategy of encouraging your team to share content that is focused on their area of expertise and their interests.
Don’t constrain, craft
So how does this work? First, share your company goals with your team. Second, share your social media goals with your team. Third, tell them that you want their help in sharing the multi-layered vision of your products and services. Fourth, tell them that you want to share a positive message and that (once again) you need their help. This is where a clear conversation can take place on how cool it will be to have your social media specialist sharing about social media on her personal profile as a company expert. This is also where (business owners will love this) a real conversation can take place about how powerful this idea can be and how quickly it can die if negativity takes over.
Capitalize on momentum
Imagine that the social media posts of the top 3-5 leaders at your company are about their industry about half of the time. That is a powerful tool to market your products and services, but also to market your talent — the greatest resource every company has.
At Striventa, each member of our team has a particular set of skills, expertise and interests.
The trick in getting this to work with the leadership at Striventa was activating each member of the team to be a public-facing figure who shares content and helpful information. As a member of the leadership team, I can tell you that it has changed the way that I post on social media. During the first part of 2017, I went back and erased a few tweets and a few posts from my personal Facebook profile. I have made a hard rule that if something is not positive, I will not post it. My content strategy for the Striventa blog clearly connects to my personal social media strategy. When we say that we believe in a holistic SEO strategy, I promise you we are not joking.
It’s Time to Launch
I know that this may all seem like it exists only in a utopian world, but I can tell you from experience in leadership at our company that it can exist. By creating the environments and setting your employees up for success in the workplace and online, you can excite them about transforming the ways in which they see social media. Working through these waters may seem tricky but by crafting the conversation to be positive and helpful, your office culture both online and offline will change. At Striventa the basis of our social media guidelines is to the honor our mission statement.
What Are The Basis For Social Media Guidelines?
The basis of all social media guidelines is to protect the business and the brand. Social media guidelines are also created to clearly layout how employees are to act on social media. In our opinion, if you have to make qualifications for what your employees are posting, then maybe social media is not your real problem. Our team is small and not a large corporation. This fact has helped us try different approaches that just would not work for all larger companies. Our goal is simple, it is to empower our team to be leaders in our industry. We push our employees to be the same people inside of the office that they are online. To us, simply put, this is what true integrity looks like.
If you would like to talk more about your current culture online and offline I would love to help. Give me a call at 623.694.2776.