Social media is a hot topic for marketing departments recently, as marketers focus on developing a strategy to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other networks to build brand loyalty, engage with consumers and boost customer service. But what about a social media strategy for inside the company?
Every company should establish a social media policy that provides clear guidelines for what is acceptable for employees who use social media either personally or for the company. Establishing a clear policy will help protect a company’s brand from being inadvertently damaged by something an employee posts online.
During the presidential debate, a Kitchen-Aid employee sent a tweet making fun of Obama’s late grandmother. Kitchen-Aid deleted the tweet, apologized and later said, “A member of our Twitter team mistakenly posted an offensive tweet from the KitchenAid handle instead of a personal handle.” The company said the employee would no longer be tweeting for them. This is just one example of how easily an employee’s social media post can cause bad publicity for a company.
Bad social media posts aren’t always as public as the Kitchen-Aid example. There are many instances of employees who lost their jobs over a social media post that the company felt was a poor representation:
- Ashley Payne, a Georgia high school teacher, was fired after posting pictures of herself drinking on vacation to her Facebook page.
- A New York University fellow resigned after offensive tweets about a CBS reporter’s brutal sexual assault in Egypt drew a backlash on Twitter.
- Comedian Gillbert Gottfried was fired as the voice of the Aflac duck after tweeting jokes about the Japan tsunami.
- A man who was the Pittsburgh Pirates pierogi mascot was fired after he bashed the team on his Facebook page.
- A North Carolina teacher was disciplined based on her Facebook profile, which included derogatory statements about students.
- Several New York teachers were fired for flirting with their students on Facebook.
A detailed social media policy helps provide clear guidelines about what is acceptable, sets expectations for employees, allows the company to take action against violations, reduces time dealing with consequences of bad social media use, and reduces the risk and legal exposure for the company.
Does your company have a social media policy? What are some of the benefits/drawbacks to the policy? How is it enforced?