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Social media for employees is a point of contention for most businesses. When do you post? What do you post about? To whom do you give access in your organization? And on top of all that, are your employees allowed to post about work from personal accounts?

It’s a tricky path to navigate and one that even Fortune 500 companies have yet to figure out. It’s why a lot of those bigger companies have adopted a blanket approach. They lock down social media to a handful of highly vetted PR specialists and banning personal posts from company property and a disavowal of any personal opinions.

And if you’ve seen the occasional rogue post by an employee accidentally still logged into a company account, or an angry retort to customer complaints, you know why. After all, the last thing you want to wake up to as a business owner is a post like this:

social-media-for-employees-1

And this isn’t nearly as bad as it can get. So you’d be forgiven for a bit of hesitation before handing the keys to your online brand identity to members of your staff. But if you do, social media for employees can have a huge, positive impact on your business. By creating evangelists who speak from a position of deep personal connection to your company, you can build a stronger, more active, and more engaged following, and in turn customer base.

Define Your Brand and Its Message

Before setting your team loose to tweet on your behalf, you should clearly define your brand and the purpose of your online profile. General rules are important, but so too is a clear idea of how you want to discuss your company, your products, and your customers.

Create a short social media for employees policy guide that includes the language you want people to use. This should include common responses to concerns or questions customers might have, and an escalation strategy when there is a problem. To avoid the kinds of snarky response the London Underground gave to a concerned passenger, make it clear what you expect from staff before they shoot out the wrong response.

Also, make it clear where and how your staff is allowed to post on your behalf. It’s common for the majority of social posts to come from a mobile device, but if your employees log into the company account via mobile, they may also be logged into a personal account, which could lead to accidental posts. This could be as innocent as a cat photo or as incendiary as an angry political statement. Set clear expectations.

Choose Social Media for Employees to Start

Social media for employeesSpeaking on behalf of the company is a privilege, not just another job. Start by selecting a handful of employees to work with at the start. Find people who have been working with you for some time, are engaged with customers in some capacity and have at least a small amount of enthusiasm for what you do. Recent hires, back scenes workers, or part timers who aren’t fully engaged in their job may not project the kind of excitement you want to represent your brand.

Beyond this, look at the people in your company and determine who should be involved. If you operate a restaurant with three managers and twelve additional staff, at least one of those managers should be on board. If you run a larger law office with several executives, make sure you have buy in from each department. This is your company’s voice, not just one department or one employee’s voice. Make sure it is a shared experience.

Periodically Review Employee Social Accounts

Before setting your team loose with access to your social voice, do a little recon. Social media for employees will always be closely related to their personal accounts, which should be both active and publicly acceptable.

There are two factors here. First, you want to be sure the people you engage are comfortable using the technology and excited to help grow it. Second, you want to ensure they are not prone to incendiary comments or rants that could bleed into your profile or get linked to it. You should never police their personal profiles, but it can certainly be used as a factor in determining if they are a good fit to work with your business accounts.

Encouraging Evangelism by Opening Restrictions

This last part is the hardest of the bunch. Eventually, after writing a detailed social media for employees policy, checking accounts and vetting your staff for posting, you have to give them the keys and trust them to do good by your business.

At the same time, you must empower them with as many resources as possible. That means creating and offering the platforms needed to write about your business. This could include:

  • A company blog populated with employee articles.
  • Twitter account for your company.
  • Facebook Page with regular employee updates.
  • LinkedIn posts and Pulse articles linked back to the company page.

Build an ecosystem in which your staff feels comfortable and encouraged to write about your business and share their persona experiences. The unpolished, personal insights of a member of your staff will speak volumes to prospective customers, but only if you give them the trust and freedom needed to do it right.