January 7, 2014 the Phoenix Business Blog posted an article by Shanyna Balch, “5 Ways to Manage Your Employees in the Digital World.” As Balch states in her introduction social media has become the rule not the exception. Nearly everyone participates in some form. From middle school children to retirees everyone has some place in social media. Social media has been tied to identify theft, real theft, bullying induced suicide, scandal, and the crumbling of many public images. That being said social media doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Social media started as a way to connect with people around the world and express yourself, but it’s expanded into a powerful business tool. Balch’s tips are a great way to make sure social media’s power are used for good not evil. You’ll have to read the article to learn all 5 ways but I had to share the one that really stood out to me.
“Have a social media policy.” Having clear guidelines, rules and expectations is a proactive approach that will prevent a lot of headaches in the long run. If you wait until an issue arises there is no pathway on how the issue should be handled and no proof that the person responsible was being negligent or if they just didn’t see their action as wrong.
A policy will do 3 things: Tell employees what’s acceptable. Tell employees what’s unacceptable (and in some cases illegal). Tell employees what actions will be taken in the event of unacceptable social media behavior.
A few tips for successful business social media:
- Keep the message positive. Don’t slander competitors or use it as a platform to complain.
- Keep it short. While social media has become a business tool its primary use is still social. Clients don’t want every notification they get to be about your business. Post sparingly.
- Keep it separate. Yes it is inevitable that business colleagues will sometimes mix personal lives with professional lives but try to avoid it in social media. That new client you’re trying to sign doesn’t need to know your top 10 movies to know you are a good choice professionally. I recommend connecting with business contacts via LinkedIn or Twitter and personal contacts via Facebook. LinkendIn is for business purposes. Twitter can go either way depending on the types of things you choose to post but Facebook is a lot less predictable. Friends can post things on your page or post photos of you that are visible to others without your approval. This is a lot easier to monitor on LinkendIn and Twitter.