Social media policy helps protect employees, companies

From The Joy of Tech

The Joy of Tech

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:

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.

When writing a social media policy, Poynter offers some tips for creating effective social media guidelines. Examples of social media policies can be viewed on the Social Media Policy Database.

Does your company have a social media policy? What are some of the benefits/drawbacks to the policy? How is it enforced?


Google+ still searching for relevance

The five emerging social media trends for 2014 indicate this could be a key year for Google+ to garner mainstream attention. As someone who works in social media marketing on a daily basis, I’m skeptical. But first, the facts:

In March, a study by eMarketer found that Google+ has the second-highest number of account holders, behind Facebook.


But simply having an account doesn’t mean users are actively using the social networking site. In October, Google reported a 58 percent jump in users, with 300 million monthly active users, up from 190 million in May.

Frederic Gonzalo, a fellow skeptic, writes: “An active user is considered someone who accessed its account during the past month. Knowing how Google has integrated its Youtube, Gmail and other accounts under a single password and platform that includes Google+, allow me to be doubtful about the true level of ‘activity’ users are having.” I agree – Google+ is likely padding its popularity thanks to its connections with actually popular sites.

In its 2013 State of Social Media Report, Pew Research doesn’t include Google+ among the social network use it examines. Instead, Pew focuses on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

I promote our news content on social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Google+. I see the most success on Facebook, where we get the majority of our referral traffic. We have more than 29,000 fans. On Twitter, we see moderate success, with our more than 4,000 followers. But on Google+, we see almost no engagement and no referrals, partially because we only have 248 “likes.”

Maybe this will be the year for 2014, which means I need to figure out how to make sure my company stays relevant on the network. But how do you go about building a following on a network it doesn’t seem like many people use? Does anybody have suggestions on how to build a Google+ following?

Facebook facing facts: Twitter is trending

Social media is a big part of teenagers’ lives; Pew Research indicates that 95 percent of teens use the Internet, and 81 percent use social networking sites.

But while Facebook has been popular for the past six or seven years, it is slowly losing ground to newer networks like Twitter.

Image from Business Insider/Huffington Post

Image from Business Insider/Huffington Post

The graphic above represents what is likely to be an ongoing trend. Twitter is becoming more popular than Facebook. Instagram is also quickly gaining steam among teen users.

One reason for the slide away from Facebook is the prevalence of older adults on the social network. Pew Research indicates that 60 percent of Internet users 50-64 use Facebook, and 45 percent of Internet users older than 65 use the site. For comparison, less than 10 percent of adult Internet users older than 50 use Twitter, and even fewer use Instagram.

Most teens indicated they prefer sites that their parents, grandparents and other relatives aren’t using. A 19-year-old focus group participant said, “Yeah, that’s why we go on Twitter and Instagram [instead of Facebook]. My mom doesn’t have that.”

I can’t argue with that rationale; when I was in high school and college, there were probably things posted to Facebook that my parents would not have approved of.

Emerging media — a social media beast

Before we can talk about emerging media, first we have to understand what it is.

Emerging media encompasses the ever-evolving world of media in today’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) landscape. Advertisers, public relations professionals, marketers, communication specialists and brand executives are constantly adjusting to keep abreast of the changing way consumers are engaging with one another and the brands they purchase.

One of the biggest, constantly changing forms of emerging media is social media. Brian Solis and and Jesse Thomas developed the conversation prism to offer a detailed overview of the emerging world of social networks:

The Conversation Prism was developed by Brian Solis and  Jesse Thomas.

As you can see, there are hundreds of networks out there, but they don’t all have the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, etc. The challenge falls to IMC professionals to figure out which of these emerging social media networks is being used by their target audience.

Social media is the current king of the emerging media playground. Although social media has passed the novelty stage, it is still an emerging area for IMC. A study by Adobe found that most marketing professionals say social media marketing is what they are most concerned about for the next three years.

Based on that analysis, Social Media Today listed its annual top 5 social media trends to watch for in 2014. Predicted emerging social media trends for the upcoming year are:

  1. Facebook will decline, Twitter will gain popularity
  2. Snapchat marketing
  3. Google+ popularity
  4. Collaborative economy becomes mainstream
  5. Video, video, video

As with anything, these are just predictions, and anything is really possible. While these are the most likely areas to emerge over the next 12 months, social networks that we’re not even aware of yet could surprise us all.

I’ll go more in depth into each of these trends, and how marketers can capitalize on them, in future posts, so check back.