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Social media protocols

in Advice & Guides by . .

Using social media to communicate with customers can be risky, but if you use it right the benefits are worth it. Set these social media policies in place and you'll have nothing to fear.

First and foremost, we are extremely careful in our staff selection, so we can place trust in our staff. We have a culture of everyone pulling together for the good of the company, very low staff turnover and high morale. We work hard to try to get everyone to feel that we are investing in them.

Like this we don't have to worry about lead swingers. New staff automatically want to fit in and to fit in they need to pull their weight. At the same time we're very relaxed; staff can play ping-pong, go on Facebook and Twitter and pursue personal projects - provided that the work gets done, of course. They are all aware that if the work doesn't get done, then the nice relaxed benefits may be taken away.

We do, however, also police activities. On the one hand we have total visibility and transparency on every individual's work flow, since it's all driven via our ticketing systems. Staff members' activities are discussed openly at regular team meetings. For Twitter we use tweetails.com, a free service that allows you to do fun stats on activity on Twitter. I actually wanted it to check my own activity levels because I was worried I was spending too much time on Twitter. I'm friends with many staff on Facebook and Twitter and we interact there, but that also means they know not to abuse it.

In short, I advocate being flexible and generous, but to monitor activities even if you don't crack down on them. Like this people know you have the capability to see how much time they are actually spending working.

1. Identify your aims and objectives 

Determine what your business’ attitude is towards social media. Whatever your stance may be, keep it in mind to ensure that each provision in the policy properly and consistently reflects your aims and objectives throughout.

2. Take a stance on employees’ personal use of social media

If you allow social media use during working hours, set parameters as to the duration, frequency and timing or put in place penalties for abuse.

3. Take a stance on employees' business use of social media 

If you are worried about sharing company information, put in place an approval system before employees submit information on behalf of the business.

4. Pick your networks 

Be smart about which networks will be the most effective for reaching your target audience, and choose two or three networks where you’ll focus your efforts. Don’t try to be everywhere — that’s a recipe for disaster.

5. Let go of fears about message control 

People understand that a personal opinion probably is not reflective of an employer’s view unless it’s on a press release. Do tell your employees that they should only put things online that they’d be prepared to defend if it ended up being used elsewhere. Tweets, blog posts and Facebook updates are all public and that’s an effective way to convey the point. But beyond that, trust your employees!

Kate Craig-Wood is the MD of Memset, and will be speaking about social media protocols for high-growth businesses at our Entrepreneurs' Summit on June 13. 

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