I find it mind-boggling that certain companies ban access to social networks. Are they mad? asks former Freeserve director Rob Wilmot.
Some business owners tell me they've put a blanket ban on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter because of "HR issues" and because they’ve been "burned" by untrustworthy employees in the past.
Oh, come on.
You have an army of budding brand evangelists right there in your office. They have the power at their fingertips to share blogs, articles, join discussions, participate in forums, upload images and encourage participation in online or offline events. They "like"and "share" stuff all the time.
Just think what that could do for your business.
If you're wary, just follow these four simple tips:
1. Actively encourage employee participation, so that they may confidently…
- Share knowledge and expertise.
- Help answer customer questions.
- Show customers that their product ideas are being listened to and considered.
- Share and retweet news and offers to their networks.
- Post comments on forums, blogs, and on LinkedIn groups to uncover sales.
2. Advise staff to be careful, and think before they post anything
- Ask them to imagine their posts pasted on a 20ft high advertising hoarding on the street for the entire world to see – would they still post it? It’s amazing how effective this simple mental check is.
- Don’t share or comment on company or financial secrets.
- It’s useful to draw up a list of things staff should steer away from talking about, such as turnover/revenue, details of growth by product line, division or region, confidential information about partnerships or contracts, potential or pending acquisitions or investments.
3. Encourage employees to be transparent and honest
- They must never contribute anonymously.
- When making an endorsement or promoting a product or service, statements must be accurate and honest (even when employees are posting from their own accounts).
- When talking about things relating to their employer from a personal social media account, they should disclose their relationship to the company.
4. Tell them to be respectful
- Don’t use ethnic or racial slurs, personal insults, or obscenity in your community participation.
- Don’t make attacks on individuals.
- Don’t make disparaging remarks about fellow employees, customers, partners or prospects.
- Don’t put down competitor products or services.
Rob Wilmot was co-director of Freeserve back in 1998 – and exited the company after the completion of a £1.6bn sale to Wanadoo in 2001. Since then, he's invested in a range of tech and media companies – the latest being bcsAgency. Read his profile here.