Whilst social media provides many opportunities for businesses, some businesses are potentially unaware or seem to have forgotten the need to have a robust social media policy in place to assist employees and protect the company’s brand online.
Stephen Duggan, CEO of Social Media Engagement Co, shared with us an article he wrote on this topic Why A Social Media Policy Is Important For Your Business. The article is certainly highly relevant to businesses big and small and well worth a read.
We decided to chat to Stephen further about the benefits of a social media policy and what his advice would be for Australian businesses that may be in the process of putting one together.
Marketing.com.au – Thanks for taking the time to answer a few further questions for us Stephen. In your experience, roughly what proportion of businesses in Australia do you think currently have a social media policy in place?
Stephen Duggan – Creating a social media policy is an effective way to help your employees know how to interact with customers online, it also educates them on what they can and cannot say, which helps to protect your brands credibility online.
When it comes to businesses and social media policy, from my personal experience I would estimate that over 90 percent of large businesses would have a robust social media policy in place.
When it comes to small to medium size businesses I would estimate that only a very small number would have a social media policy in place, which puts these businesses at risk. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses don’t take any action around a social media policy until an issue has arisen, which by then, is far too late.
Marketing.com.au – You mentioned in your article about reducing risk and legal exposure by having a social media policy. Can you share, without mentioning names, any examples of where a policy would have prevented such an incident?
Stephen Duggan – There have been a lot of press reports over the last 12 months centered on companies and their employees conduct online. Just recently an Interior designer was sacked in Canberra for sending out emails to prospective clients via LinkedIn while he worked for a design firm. This ended up in the Fair Work Commission, where the commission ruled that the company was within its rights to fire the person.
There are also many other reported stories where a staff member has said something about their boss, company or supplier, which resulted in them being sacked. There has even been a case in the US where a staff member was sacked for liking a fan page.
Alternatively, there have been cases that have resulted in overturning a person’s sacking based on the fact that the employer did not have a social media policy in place.
The message here is for companies to get a social media policy in place so that all employees know exactly what can and cannot be posted on social media sites. The policy should also clearly state who has the authority to comment about the company on social media as well as who is the “go-to” person in the company for approving any posts about the company, its brands and staff.
Marketing.com.au – When it comes to implementing a social media policy within a business, do you have any recommendations for how best to approach this with employees?
Stephen Duggan – I see social media governance as a work in progress activity for every business. Given that the social media space is so dynamic at the moment as new platforms, techniques and laws are introduced.
It’s important that you get your employees involved in the formulation of any Social Media Policy. This involvement can be as simple as pulling a team together from the business to look at what the company feels it needs in terms of a Social Media policy.
When it comes to a social media policy, it’s really important to get internal buy-in, to understand the risks and threats to the business while developing your internal capabilities and managing the issues that may arise. It makes sense to keep the documentation concise and flexible so it’s not an onerous job to alter it, as the social media landscape changes.
Marketing.com.au – Are there any places or resources you could recommend that businesses could go to for templates or examples of how to write a social media policy?
Stephen Duggan – A great place to start for an example of a social media policy is the Victorian Department of Justice’s video. This video allows the viewer to absorb the core concepts in a few minutes.
Other go to places are your legal department, social media specialist companies and business associations.
Marketing.com.au thanks Stephen for taking the time to share his advice with us. We hope this has helped our readers to start putting the wheels in motion to prepare a social media policy for the benefit of both their employees and their brand.
Stephen Duggan, CEO, Social Media Engagement Co.
Stephen Duggan is CEO at the Social Media Engagement Co. a full service digital social media marketing and engagement agency. Stephen is recognized as one of the prominent thought leaders and writers in the new arena of social media. Stephen is a leading expert in social media, branding and IP Management. He has been active in the online environment for 15 years and has a strong social media following. Stephen has studied and influenced the effects of social media on business, marketing, culture and societal change.
Stephen has in excess of 20 years senior marketing and communication experience, having worked for top 100 Multinational’s as well as medium size and Greenfield startup businesses. His industry experience covers a broad range of industries from FMCG, Pharmaceuticals, Education, Banking, Health and Beauty as well as the Travel and Hospitality Industries.
Stephen has in excess of 20 years senior marketing and communication experience, having worked for top 100 Multinational's as well as medium size and Greenfield startup businesses. His industry experience covers a broad range of industries from FMCG, Pharmaceuticals, Education, Banking, Health and Beauty as well as the Travel and Hospitality Industries.
Latest posts by Stephen Duggan (see all)
- Implementing a Social Media Policy - November 12, 2013
- A Brave New World – Social Customer Relationship Management - February 12, 2013