Michelle Sheridan, Talent Development Manager at Urbint
As a versatile project manager and HR content writer, Michelle develops successful organizational development programs and shares insights with the world at large to facilitate healthy workplace cultures of diversity, inclusivity, and advancement. She has written about manager development, remote work, project & time management, employee well-being, and other relevant topics to help people excel in the modern workplace.
Pub: September 29 2020
. Upd: October 18 2021
In the age of social media, the position of a company is in everybody’s hands. A simple tweet can build up or bring down an entire enterprise and every company’s PR team should be prepared to handle a controversial situation on social media. However, knowing how to avoid a controversial situation could save you from a lot of stress and even an economic impact.
Maybe you haven’t thought about the need of creating a social media policy for your employees. After all, it should be obvious what an employee should and shouldn’t post, right? Unfortunately what’s “obvious” for you might not be “obvious” for somebody else.
Having social media guidelines for your employees can make them feel more committed to the brand and more enthusiastic about sharing their work experiences. In the end, you want them to be an advocate for your company and help your internet presence grow in a positive way.
Getting started on creating these guidelines might be tricky, but we’re here to help! Below you’ll find a couple of social media policy examples we think might help you when creating your own:
Talking to thousands of employees through a document might be hard, but Best Buy does it with ease. Best Buy’s policies are concise and cover what their employees should and shouldn’t do on and off the clock.
They start by saying:
Guidelines for functioning in an electronic world are the same as the values, ethics, and confidentiality policies employees are expected to live every day, whether you’re Tweeting, talking with customers, or chatting over the neighbor’s fence. Remember, your responsibility to Best Buy doesn’t end when you are off the clock. For that reason, this policy applies to both company-sponsored social media and personal use as it relates to Best Buy.
From the start, Best Buy engages their employees by talking to them on a human level. After their opening statement, they offer a simple “Do’s and Don'ts” list using a professional dialogue while keeping it short and understandable. A few of their bullet points are:
Disclose your Affiliation: If you talk about work-related matters that are within your area of job responsibility you must disclose your affiliation with Best Buy.
Act responsibly and ethically: When participating in online communities, do not misrepresent yourself. If you are not a vice president, don’t say you are.
Honor Our Differences: Live the values. Best Buy will not tolerate discrimination (including age, sex, race, color, creed, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, citizenship, disability, or marital status or any other legally-recognized protected basis under federal, state, or local laws, regulations or ordinances).
The Numbers: Non-public financial or operational information. This includes strategies, forecasts, and most anything with a dollar-figure attached to it. If it’s not already public information, it’s not your job to make it so.
Personal Information: Never share personal information about our customers. See the Customer Information Policies for more information.
In the end, they address what could happen if the aforementioned points are not followed, and while addressing dismissal may not be easy, they certainly do so in a very breezy and still straightforward way:
- Get fired (and it’s embarrassing to lose your job for something that’s so easily avoided)
- Get Best Buy in legal trouble with customers or investors
- Cost us the ability to get and keep customers
“Remember: protect the brand, protect yourself”
This last statement is the perfect way to close and sum up the company's social media policy; it puts a portion of the weight of the brand on every employee’s shoulders, making them accountable for both the company and themselves.
Adidas’ guidelines are another example of a concise document with a human approach. Their opening statement is amicable and inviting:
At the Adidas Group, we believe in open communication and you are encouraged to tell the world about your work and share your passion. Whether you do so by participating in a blog, wiki, online social network or any other form of online publishing or discussion is completely up to you.
Now that they’ve established that everyone can (and should) share about their job, Adidas’ gets right down to business:
“In order to avoid any problems or misunderstandings, we have come up with a few guidelines to provide helpful and practical advice for you when operating on the internet as an identifiable employee of the Adidas Group and its brands.”
When laying down the guidelines, Adidas maintains a simple tone, making them easy to understand. They cover the basics:
- “If an item features the sentence "for internal use only" then that is exactly what it means”
- “ If you have signed a confidentiality agreement you are expected to follow it.”
- “Do not comment on work-related legal matters unless you are an official spokesperson...”
- “Respect your audience.”
- “Please respect copyright. If it is not yours, don't use it. “
- and so on.
Towards the end of the document, they remind their employees that they’re still responsible for what they post and that it could harm themselves and/or the company. This will always be a tricky matter to address, but it cannot and should not be left out.
To lighten things up after all the do’s and don’ts, Adidas finishes up the document by saying “And finally. With all the blogging and interacting, don't forget your daily job…”, and that’s how you make sure your employees won’t forget about what they’ve just read.
Coca-Cola’s corporate social media policy is extremely long and thorough. While some might prefer a simpler and more “to the point” format, Coca-Cola does not leave room for doubt. If you are wondering if your social media guidelines for your employees are missing something, you might want to take a look at Coca-Cola’s document and make sure you’re covering it all. Also, their document is a great place to start if you’re just about to create your own guidelines for your company.
Their opening statement is more than half a page long, but our favorite part is the following:
“...we always remember who we are (a marketing company) and what our role is in the social media community (to build our brands).”
Like many other companies, Coca-Cola encourages employees to engage in social media conversations involving their company while keeping in mind that building their brand is the main target.
Coca-Cola also uses this document to remind their employees about their company values to then jump into what they call “principles” of how they’re expected to behave online; these principles cover what you’d expect but in a more thorough way, which is why this document is 3 full pages long.
We hope these examples can help you draft your own social media policy, improve your online presence, and therefore your employee engagement; as well as avoid internet mishaps. After all, what’s said on the internet, stays on the internet.