Why having a social media policy is good for your business

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Business owners can no longer deny the powerful impact social media can have on the way they do business. The media often deliver an abundance of news stories showcasing the ways in which social media has been used to provide excellent customer service, and even within the recruitment process. But while social media can really prove to be a major catalyst in business growth, it is also worth bearing in mind the potential pitfalls that social media can bring.

Reputation is, and will always be, king in business. And it’s unfortunate that while building and maintaining reputation can take months, even years; reputation can be permanently damaged in a matter of minutes. Such reputation disasters can arise from a number of sources, both internal and external to your business, which sadly does include what your existing and previous employees say about you (whether it is intentional or not). So, while there is little that businesses can do to regulate what is said about them by customers, suppliers and users, there are ways in which employers can minimise the potential risk arising from employees using social media.

Establishing a clear social media policy is an effective way for employers to establish clear guidelines so that both employers and employees are aware of their responsibilities while using social media platforms. In order to be most effective the policy should be continually updated, to include new social media channels as they emerge. The policy, as with all HR policies, should also be transparent, and readily available to all staff.

Factors to consider within your social media policy may include:
  • The purpose of the policy and its objectives, detailing what employees are encouraged to voice, and what topics they should avoid. This could include business interests employers wish to protect and any confidential and proprietary matters.
  • The policy should clearly define the responsibilities of both employer and employee, making both parties fully aware that they are responsible for what they write online.
  • Finally, employers should also clearly define the potential consequences of failing to adhere to such policies.
Investing time in crafting a clearly defined and transparent social media policy can pay dividends in the long run. This not only ensures that guidelines are in place and respected, but such polices can also be used to encourage a positive use of social media amongst your workforce, helping to maintain your company’s reputation, which as we all know is invaluable.

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