Corporate Social Media Policy, do you need it? [Part 1]

Have you ever asked yourself, do I need a corporate social media policy?

As Facebook approaches 1 billion users, Twitter 300 million*, and 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, chances are your staff are engaged in social media.

Manage anyone under 35? Those chances go way up.

What if my company has no social media presence? Does the fact that my 27 year old accountant has an active personal Facebook presence impact my business?

 In fact, yes it does.

Employees engaged in social media are brand ambassadors for your company 24/7. Those fleeting online conversation can live there forever, and who knows what tidbit of information could come back to bite you in the future.

Do you remember the Fedex delivery guy throwing the monitor over the fence? This is great example of what can happen when consumer posts a video about your staff and it’s goes viral. Fedex’s response video to this video is a great lesson on how to deal with this type of situation.

What happens if an employee posts a picture of a messy corner of your office? What happens when an excited salesperson tweets about a deal before it’s officially closed? Or uploads a video destroying company equipment as was the case with a client of ours? How should you respond?

Situations like this make having a social media policy a requirement for any company today.

So now that you’re convinced that some of your employees are on social media and you want them to have a clear policy to follow. Where do you start?

Typically, a social media policy will have 2 parts:

A) Personal social media use guidelines

B) Organizational social media use guidelines

For personal social media use guidelines consider these areas:

Protecting company reputation: If you have an existing communication policy, tap into it for your social media policy. Keeping a consistent message to employees is best and they will already be accustomed to your existing policy. If no policy exists, here are some helpful tips.  If looking for a lengthly communication policy, see the Government of Canada’s here.

Managing information flow: New business partnerships, new services, or building maintenance issues should be communicated through proper channels. If someone promises the air conditioning will be on by June 1st and the maintenance team is ready for July 1st, you could have some un-happy tenants and a damaged reputation. Make the guidelines clear about who can say what, and when. Some companies, like Apple, go to great lengths to control information flow!

Property Management Social Media Issues: Property management faces some unique issues with regards to social media. A unique position of property management is that you provide a product (apartment) AND a service (management). Your staff are in the unique position to enter people’s private residences, they should not be taking photos while in there. A unique situation you may find yourself in is a car or bike thief caught on your security camera. Should you share this information in hopes the culprit will get caught? These are questions to be decided internally.

For Organizational Use:

Company Voice: The voice of the company across all social channels should be consistent with your brand’s voice. If a resident in an apartment posts about a water leak in a hallway and your staff replies “We will get to it when we can.” or “Have you tried buckets?” this may not reflect your customer service standards. See an example below of a great response from a property management client of ours to a question on Facebook.

Property management social media policy

A property manager with a great social media policy engages residents.

Content Strategy: What will you post? How often will you post? Do you answer all questions? None? Who decides what to say and what happens when that person is away. There are many questions around content and who produces / curates the content that need to be outlined in the social media policy for your property management company.

Best Practises
  1.  Keep it concise: In the US, Courts and the National Labour Review Board has often ruled against companies with overly broad Non-disparagement policies.
  2. Re-enforce existing corporate culture: Keep messaging to employees consistent and refer to existing policies when possible.
  3. Use simple, easy to understand language: Intel’s policy is well know for being simple, effective, and easy to understand.
  4.  With this in mind you should be on your way to crafting a social media policy that is right for your business.
My mom used to always say “Better safe than sorry.” and for property management companies it’s better to be safe and create a social media policy for your company.
If you have any questions or would like to see examples of social media policies Neighbourhood Buzz has created please reach out to me at steve(at)neighbourhoodbuzz.com.
Steve
Founder / Business Development
Neighbourhood Buzz

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