As social media marketing continues to become an effective (if not essential) avenue by which businesses can connect with customers and build relationships, the way your team communicates with audiences online will also be critical to the success of your business.

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For some organisations, it would seem the risk of a reputation nightmare or a security breach has proven too big, and they have banned social media all together. But, are they missing a valuable marketing opportunity by not letting their staff on social networking sites during work hours? At the end of the day, your staff are your greatest brand ambassadors, right? Well, not always…

You may have read earlier this year about former medical technician Dawnemarie Souza who, after being fired for using vulgar language to criticise her boss on Facebook, took her company to court.

The case received widespread attention for its ground breaking attempt to set legal limits on employers’ internet policies, and also highlighted some very serious issues.

1)  Souza made the comments from her private account on her own time and on her own computer. Several co-workers (also friends on Facebook) joined in on the thread, making similarly negative comments about the supervisor.

2)  The National Labor Relations Board insisted that Souza’s postings were a “concerted activity,” so is therefore protected by employees’ rights to communicate with one another in an effort to improve work conditions.

3)  Her employer on the other hand argued that Souza’s comments constituted “online badmouthing” which violates company policy.

The financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but one thing is for sure, it certainly argues the case of how important it is for organisations to incorporate a social media policy in the workplace.

AND creating a policy is very different to having a policy that your staff are actually aware of, and completely understand.

According to a recent global survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute, even if they have a policy that addresses the acceptable use of social media in the workplace, 65% of respondents say that their organisations do not enforce it or they are unsure. Furthermore, the top three reasons for not enforcing these policies according to the study are;


So what should your social media policy include?
 

No matter which way you look at it, there is a fine line to walk between being unreasonably restrictive and overly liberal but there are some travel companies who actively engage their staff in social media.

For example, at Radisson Edwardian, they identify a ‘Hotel Champion’ at each of their venues.  The ‘Hotel Champions’ put themselves forward to promote the group’s social media activities. They then meet with these ‘champions’ once a month to discuss ideas about getting guests involved with their social media channels,  as they have been the ones actively asking guests.  They also write guest posts for their company blog.

Similarly, Joie de Virve also delegates a social media champion at each of their properties. The champions are empowered to create content, talk with guests and share relevant brand and hotel information. They also meet regularly at their social media summits at the Joie de Vivre University, where they also recognise and reward their champions.

These examples show that by creating a good social media policy that encourages your staff to support your social media activities rather than discouraging them for fear of breaking the rules, you can in fact activate some of your greatest advocates: your employees. And with social media marketing, the more voices sharing relevant content about your brand, the greater your reach.

Here’s a few guidelines to help you when drafting your policy;

Have you got any other tips to share?

To find out more about our social media marketing services, please call us today on +44 (0)1179 111 420 or email info@digitalvisitor.com