Hey there 👋
If you’re here.
You’re probably looking for a bit of inspiration.
After watching the working world change since the pandemic.
And move to a “digital-first” environment.
You’ve noticed a shift.
You’ve seen your connections grow their personal brands.
You’ve read everything there is to read about employee advocacy.
You’ve seen people generating leads and new business from LinkedIn.
And now you’ve decided…
It’s about time you and your workforce joined in on the fun.
Maybe you’re already encouraging your workforce to use social media.
And to grow their personal brands.
Maybe you’ve even launched a scaled employee advocacy program?
If so, then great! 👏
But there’s something you’re going to need either way…
A clear and concise social media policy.
Not just one that says, “don’t do x, y, or z, or you’ll get in trouble.”
But a 2022-ready document that allows your employees to leverage social media to grow their personal brands and move your business forward.
And not a 45-page document that’s a catastrophic blend of both dull and confusing 🤦♂️
First, let’s discuss why…
Social Media Policies 101
What is a social media policy?
A social media policy is a document created for employees that outlines a behavioural code of conduct that they’re expected to follow when sharing anything online, whether as part of their job or non-work-related things.
The BEST social media policies should also educate your employees on the benefits of using social media for professional use.
Historically, they’re put in place to protect brand reputation. Now, they serve as an opportunity to educate and reassure employees while encouraging safe social media use.
Why do you need a social media policy?
In 2022, branding is social-first, and your employees serve as the names and faces behind the name and the logo. Everything is news, whether from your company page or from an employee’s personal LinkedIn.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns accelerated a digital shift that’s got everyone from salespeople to tech teams incorporating social media into their role.
Not to mention the number of millennials joining the workforce and the emerging Gen Z talent who grew up with social media. They will undoubtedly be on social media and using it regularly. so now, more than ever, it’s time to write or rethink your social media policy.
Numbers to make you think!
(because what marketer doesn’t love a stat?) 😉
- Just 45% of employees said they have a clear understanding of what they should and shouldn’t say on social media when it comes to company-related matters.
- 39% of employees admit to having posted about their employer on social media without any encouragement.
- 57% of people consider “social business” to be an important factor when it comes to choosing an employer.
- 50-70% of a buying decision happens before a salesperson is involved.
- 52% of people say that their social media policy isn’t part of their employee onboarding, and 5% said they don’t have one at all.
Your employees are already using social media at work.
They’re already talking about your company online.
And yet less than half admit to knowing the laws of the land 🤔
Your social media policy isn’t there to police your employees.
You don’t want to create a big list of “don’t do this” things that people are too scared to post anything at all 🙅♂️
With a clear policy that clearly states what’s off-limits while allowing for authentic posting, you alleviate that worry (and avoid a potential PR nightmare!).
The Benefits of Having a “Socially Active” Workforce
This is the biggie.
THIS is why you need to write or update your policy.
The benefits of employees using social for work far outweigh the risks.
And this is exactly what your new policy should be centred around.
ESPECIALLY if you’re going to leverage employee advocacy 🔥
By now, employee advocacy needs no introduction.
But, for the unacquainted:
Employee advocacy is the promotion of a company or its products/services by the people who work for the company. You can learn everything you need to know from our ultimate guide to employee advocacy.
The employee advocacy trend has exploded over the past few years. When the pandemic came along and networking shifted to 100% digital, brands and professionals the world over began to realize the potential of employee advocacy.
Marketers realized they could elevate brand awareness through their employees, salespeople were able to adopt social selling, HR teams found a new way to showcase their company culture… the list goes on! 😎
So much so that Gartner predicts that by 2023, 90% of B2B marketing strategies will include scaled employee advocacy programs.
It’s simple, in 2022, people want to hear from people, not brands.
Employee advocacy allows you to communicate with your key audiences in the most authentic and transparent way possible; through the people behind the brand!
Whether to take your content the extra mile or to showcase your employer brand, here are some key employee advocacy statistics that’ll make you think!
- Brand messages reach up to 561% further when shared by employees.
- The average workforce has 10x as many connections as the company has followers.
- 76% of people say they’re more likely to trust content shared by “normal people” over a brand
- Content shared by employees received 8x more engagement than the same content shared through brand channels.
- Leads generated through employee advocacy convert 7x more frequently than any other leads
- Companies with successful employee advocacy programs are 58% more likely to attract and 20% more likely to retain top talent.
Things to Include in Your Policy
Get your tone of voice right!
Your employees are people, not robots.
Speak to them like they’re people and use a more casual tone of voice.
You should be writing to be understood, not to get the OK from legal… 🤦♂️
Plus, you want this to sound fun! This should be an encouraging document, and you want to get your employees excited about the idea of using social media for work.
Hold on, I recognise that…
Ensure that your employees understand basic copyright laws.
This should include links to the most up-to-date image rights and GDPR legislation.
Plagiarism isn’t a good look for either party involved 😬
It’s not only damaging to the employee’s personal brand, but it can also leave their network with a sense that they’re not being authentic in any of their posts.
If that message is a post is a direct copy of someone else’s… Did someone tell them to post it?
Worse still, in more extreme examples, the use of someone else’s image or a breach of copyright laws could land both the company and the employee in legal trouble.
Make sure your employees are aware of customer and client confidentiality.
You don’t want them sharing sensitive details that could harm both customer and audience relationships.
Just be nice!
Remind employees to consider and be respectful of their audiences 👍
Social media has become the #1 destination for social issues surrounding things like race, religion and sexuality, and as the lines between social media for professional and personal use become increasingly blurred, they should be reminded that if dishonourable behaviour isn’t accepted in the workplace, it won’t be tolerated in the digital world.
Keep it real!
Encourage your employees to be themselves.
There’s nothing more authentic than being yourself, and generally speaking, using social media is much easier when you adopt this mentality! 🤩
Remind them to avoid any “pseudo identities” and encourage transparency. It shouldn’t be a secret who they work for, and you’ll want them to talk loud and proud about this as it can be great for your employer brand.
Employees should be told to write and talk in the first person too.
You’re not encouraging them to be robots, after all!
Keep a lid on it...
Emotions run high online, especially nowadays when we’re exposed to so much injustice and misrepresentation.
Passion is great, and you should absolutely speak when you feel it’s right and just, but draw the line at anger.
We’ve all been there… you’ve had a difficult day, your emotions are already running high, somebody says something, or you see something online, and you furiously type out a response.
Take a minute and think about it before you press send 👌
Once it’s there, it’s there forever.
Nothing ever really disappears once it lands on the internet.
You might hit delete on that tweet or remove that LinkedIn comment, but often it’s too little too late.
People can screenshot, retweet, re-share, you name it. Once it’s online, it will always exist somewhere.
Uh oh, I made a boo-boo.
It happens! 🤷♂️
Tell them that they should be told to be the first ones to respond to mistakes.
Don’t just leave it there.
Trust me, on social media, a mistake will only grow in significance!
Whether it’s deleting a comment or correcting something they’ve said, encourage them to sort it sooner rather than later.
If they’re not sure how to handle the situation, make sure to remind them that the social team are at hand for situations like this!
We’ve got your back!
Provide a point of contact for your employees to reach out to 👋
Things come up all the time.
It could be a bad response to one of their posts or a difficult question from a client/customer.
They’re not always expected to know what to say, and that’s okay!
Having a point of contact assures them that someone is at hand if they need assistance.
Social media and personal branding are all about building your community.
Whether it’s weighing in on a topic that fits in with what they do or responding to a comment on one of their posts about the company, you should encourage employees to engage with their audiences when the opportunity presents itself.
Plus, it’s not all about the company!
Sometimes being authentic just means sharing helpful content with their audiences. It all helps to build trust and rapport with their networks 🙏
Give us a follow!
Tell your employees to check out and follow your branded channels.
It’s a great place for them to start, especially if they’re not so confident with using social media.
Following your branded social channels will allow your employees to locate content that’s “oven-ready” that they can share themselves.
It also serves as a bit of inspiration if they’re stuck for something to say 🤷♂️
They’ll likely find it easier to engage with the company/other employees at first.
Remember our etiquette.
As an employer, you will likely have run through a code of conduct on how to behave in the workplace when onboarding new employees.
Remind your employees that the same behaviour is expected from them online as well as in the office or on internal channels.
Don't fall down the rabbit hole...
It’s easy to get lost in social media.
We’ve all been there.
You open LinkedIn or Twitter to message someone or post something, and half an hour later, you’re reading a rags-to-riches story from some entrepreneur on LinkedIn 🤦♂️
Remind employees that while social media usage is encouraged, it should not distract from or disrupt the day job.
LinkedIn profile checklist.
When it comes to social media for work, LinkedIn should be the first-choice platform.
And getting started on LinkedIn begins with setting up your profile.
It sounds simple enough, right?
Your name, a bio, your photo…
But there’s doing it, and then there’s really doing it 💪
If you want your employees to reap the benefits of being more active on social media, you’re going to want to include a checklist and some best practices on how to optimize LinkedIn profiles.
We’ve included one in our downloadable template to save you some time!
LinkedIn best practices.
So you can’t just say:
“You should post to social media”
And expect them to become personal branding gurus.
How often should they post?
Do they know what community management is?
What kinds of posts does LinkedIn prioritise right now?
Algorithms can be mean, after all 😩
Include some best practices and include as many resources as possible so that your employees can implement a plan and start adding structure to their posting.
Don’t sweat it though, we’ve included some tips and resources in our template.
Include a few pointers on how to keep imagery and messaging on-brand.
You’ll want to outline things like:
- How to use the company logo.
- How to write the company name (it’s DSMN8, not dsmn8!) 🧐
- Which hashtags to use.
Maybe add a link to your electronic press kit if you have one.
Naturally, your employees will have some questions.
Whether from past experience or common sense, try to answer a few questions that you expect to arise.
Examples might include:
- Can I be fired for something I’ve said online?
- Is my social media activity being monitored?
- Who owns my social media account if it’s being used for work?
Answering these should reassure employees and also save your point of contact some time replying to hundreds of queries.
Stress that above all else, employees should enjoy the time they’re being encouraged to spend on social media.
By encouraging employees to use social media to build their personal brands, you’re opening a world of possibilities for them, no matter their role 👍
Whether it’s starting conversations and generating leads with social selling, seeing heaps of engagement on their latest piece of content, or progressing within their role by building their networks and demonstrating thought leadership.
How to Distribute Your Policy
90% of companies fall at this hurdle.
(not an official statistic)
But this happens A LOT 😪
Companies spend days, weeks, or months writing an all-encompassing (and usually dull) social media policy for their employees and then fail to share it with the workforce effectively.
Or worse yet, they simply leave it on the company intranet for employees to look for.
The purpose of your shiny new policy should be to encourage employees to share, and that starts with sharing the policy with them.
Why? We already know they’re using social media anyway…
Well, consider this; since the inception of social media, employees have been told to avoid talking about the company online or face the consequences.
Sure, the emerging workforce will have a different attitude, but the majority of your employees will, by default, have reservations about using social media for work purposes. You HAVE to get your policy in front of these people 🙏
Consider which of your internal communications channels typically receive the most engagement and responses. This will be the ideal place to announce and share your new policy.
We’ve even seen some companies schedule team-specific calls and webinars to walk through their policy and educate employees on how to use social media for work.
Every company will be different but choose what has worked best for you in the past.
Great Social Media Policy Examples
Naturally, every company’s policy will be different.
Both in terms of its contents and its appearance.
Some companies might need a much longer document…
(Emphasis on ‘might’ as we remain sceptical) 🙄
Either way, try to take a step back and remove that corporate brain for a second.
You have to consider what will resonate with your workforce and what they’ll be inclined to actually read and ultimately understand.
Here are some great (and very different) examples:
GAP has absolutely nailed it with their policy 👏
Sure, it doesn’t tick all the boxes in terms of things we’ve suggested you include, but the tone of voice and humorous nature of it make it a document that employees will actually take the time to read.
It also includes some nice visuals and is very much to the point.
“If you #!%#@# up? Correct it immediately and be clear about what you’ve done to fix it. Contact the social media team if it’s a real doozy.”
Coca-Cola’s guidelines are comprehensive and clear, however, it’s lacking in the visual department.
Excluding the brand’s logo, it’s predominantly black and white, and the text is bunched up.
Thankfully, it’s only three pages, but at first glance, it won’t thrill any employee to be told that they have to read this 🤔
From a legal standpoint, it might not seem necessary, but in the age of short attention spans, it’s essential to keep things visually stimulating.
Again, not the most visually appealing, but a great example nonetheless.
Why? Intel has broken up their policy into 3 rules of engagement 👇
- Be Upfront
- Focus on the Good
- Use Your Best Judgment
Ready to write a social media policy of your own?
We’ve made it easy.
We’ve rolled all of these tips together.
And made a free-to-download template that you can fully customize and white label as your own!
Get yours below 👇
Senior Marketing Manager and Employee Advocacy Program Manager at DSMN8. Lewis specialises in content strategy, growing brand visibility and generating inbound leads. His background in Sales lends itself well to demand generation in the B2B niche.