People are often surprised that my position exists in a dental company. I am the Social Media Strategist for a company with over 300 supported dental offices. That’s right dentists! Why on earth do dentists need social media? How does a large company use social media? The obvious answer would be for marketing. But the truth is, we use it for much more than that. Research shows that 94% of corporations use social media. Companies use it for customer service, public relations, and even recruiting. Unlike traditional media, social media is a living breathing evolving set of tools that allow people to communicate with each other and with the world.
You know the stats – Facebook has over 1 billion active users, Twitter has 500 million users and Google+ 343 million active users. LinkedIn has 200 million users. There are more channels than that and the numbers are staggering.
So even if you aren’t active on social media, someone close to you is…
When another person rants on Facebook about a horrible experience with your company, social media can amplify that message. When one person tweets about a great experience with your company, social media can amplify that message too! That is the power of Social Media.
Social media touches nearly every part of our lives these days. People use it daily whether using their desktops or laptops, or their mobile devices. People use it anytime and everywhere. That is why, some employers worried about productivity, simply block access to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, on computers on the company network. This, however, does not stop workers from accessing social media through their smartphones.
What’s a company to do?
THE ANSWER: CREATE A SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
There is very little you can do to stop people from using social on their phones or in their personal time, so rather than coming up with a 50 page handbook, it would be best to come up with a one to two page summary that gives your organization a view of what they should and could be doing online.
Your social media policy should:
- Be tailored for your organization. No one size fits all because each organization has different needs, uses and risks.
Apply Common Sense. Don’t restrict your employees’ social media activity. Stress that the use of social media at work is a PRIVILEGE, and with that privilege comes responsibility.
Be specific about what is or is not permitted. List consequences if policy is violated. Note: Policy should not be TOO BROAD (you cannot, for example, prohibit employees from posting pictures of the company, store brand or product. You cannot say, you are prohibited from depicting the brand in any way etc)
- The policy should comply with and be implemented in accordance with local requirements, including privacy laws (Understand the law – like copyright, privacy, slander, libel, provisions of NLRA (national labor relations act)
- Remember, having a dedicated and well communicated social media policy will help guide employees in their use of social media in the workplace. Set expectations from the get go; communicate that social media should not affect their overall productivity.