We’ve all heard at least one story about a high-profile figure sending out a social media blast that’s in poor taste or based on mistaken information. The blast then goes viral and the reputation of the public figure is seriously damaged—sometimes irreparably.
In 2009 an employee at a Domino’s Pizza in North Carolina filmed another employee defiling sandwiches he was about to deliver to a customer. The employee doing the filming gave a running commentary in which he said, “Now, that’s how we roll at Domino’s.” They then uploaded the video to YouTube, where it garnered more than a million views and prompted a viral response on Twitter. Within just a few days, Domino’s had a fully blown PR crisis on its hands.
Because of examples such as the above, it’s important that all businesses adopt policies for who can share information about their activities and what can be shared. While you can’t interfere with free speech, establishing rules of conduct for your current and former employees will provide guidelines for them to interact responsibly on social media.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Trust your employees to exercise discretion on social media. However, establish in writing those things that they must not discuss online. Such forbidden topics include proprietary, confidential, and other non-public information about your business, as well as private, personal information about you and your other employees. Your policy should also address dishonest, offensive, and disparaging statements, as well as discussion of illegal activity, including the use of drugs.
- It’s generally best to designate an individual or team with the responsibility for managing the social media activities of your business. They alone are charged with posting, responding to, and monitoring the activity on all of your social media outlets. This allows you to protect your business and present a focused message.
- Have a system in place to monitor social media networks. We’re not talking “Big Brother” here. You don’t have to “friend” your current and past employees on Facebook or follow their Twitter feeds. However, there are several tools available—such as SocialMention and SocialPointer—that will help you find out what is being said about your business.
Certain types of unauthorized or inappropriate social media posts can be legitimate cause for action because they can prompt legal or fiscal problems for your business. Contact us if you need help fleshing out your business’s social media policy.