I have seen this year at the 2012 London Olympics how controversial tweets from athletes have sent them packing. In a business, a status or tweet bashing your boss or sharing confidential company information can have you fired, not to mention serious legal ramifications. The infamous saying “think before you speak” seems to be the classic response.
How many people actually recount that phrase when typing? It is so easy to hit the “send” or “enter” without realizing that your life can change in a minute because what you intended to post was taken out of context. A single impulse action can have serious consequences, however; we tend not to see that at the time. What we have to understand is that we are all human, and that acting in an impulsive manner is foreseeable. In fact, our economy thrives on impulse purchasing behavior and with the evolution of social and mobile it is only increasing.
Social media gives us a platform to convey our thoughts and feelings instantly – both positive and negative. To some, “Real Time Data” has become a “Real Time Problem.” So how can we handle this double edge sword in business?
Here are my 3 tips for creating social structure at your company:
1. Educate your team.
In addition to having an outside firm or an in-house social media specialist handling your company’s social media strategy, it is critical to educate the rest of the employees on how to effectively participate in social conversations. Who knows your product or service better than your own employees? They are the heart of your company and ultimately make the best brand advocates. They also have the added bonus of using their own social networks to increase brand presence and awareness. Recently, at Jive Software, we have started recognizing the most social employees every month. Using our App Partner Crowdfactory, we can tell what employees share and how much influence they have.
With news flooding the social web every second, it is also important that a unified corporate voice remains intact. It is the a company’s duty to educate its employees on how to respond online when it comes to company or competitor specific news. Real-time information can be overwhelming; but by providing general guidance to employees on a relative basis, they become more comfortable with social.
Everyone hates mandatory training so make it fun and exciting. Our customer, National Instruments creates an annual list of the top 10 worst social media examples as a fun way to get people to know what’s right and wrong.
2. Create a basic social media policy.
Despite the risks of uncontrolled social media use by employees, 76% of companies don’t have a clearly defined social media policy (http://www.socialbusinessnews.com/.) By creating a basic policy for your company, employees can make smarter decisions and have something to refer to when in doubt.
At Jive, our official social policy is very simple :
1. Jive is a social company — we encourage you to use public social tools to get your job done.
2. When you participate in social conversations, remember that you represent Jive and act accordingly.
Then, we share a variety of tips with employees to help ensure their success. Basic recommendations like “think before you post,” “add value,” “be transparent,” “own your mistakes quickly” go a long way in empowering employees to participate in social conversations in a meaningful way.
3. Trust your employees.
Acknowledge that social is like water. It goes around all barriers…. so rather than trying to dam it or push it back, you have to channel it. While you channel social, expect that they will still use unsanctioned social while at work. You must anticipate and plan for it, segregate it on your systems, but don’t ban it for personal use. Your company image and culture are defined by your employees.
As Amber Naslund, President & Co-Founder of SideraWorks perfectly put it during her keynote at InnoTech Oregon, “If you don’t trust your employees on Twitter, you’ve got a hiring problem not a social media problem.”
This quote really speaks to the heart of what employers need to do at the end of the day – train and trust employees to be brand ambassadors.