The Benefits of Implementing a Social Media Policy
While some companies employ social media specialists to manage their social media accounts, others may leave the task in the hands of their employees or an outside person or company.
Whichever way you choose to handle your social media efforts, you have to be prepared to deal with certain risks. Due to the far-reaching impact of social media marketing, any mistake or negative comment can have a potentially devastating effect on your business.
Having a social media policy enables you to regulate your social media activities and minimize errors that can undermine your company's reputation and profitability.
What is a Social Media Policy?
A social media policy is a set of standards that a company expects its social media managers and employees to follow when they are using social media websites.
Generally, it consists of a list of things that employees should do or avoid when they are participating in social media. It may also detail the possible consequences of failing to comply with the policy.
The Benefits of Implementing a Social Media Policy
Prevents Costly Social Media Mistakes
If your social media managers or employees use inappropriate language, make negative or insensitive comments, or commit certain errors on social media, they can put your company in a bad light.
Also, there is a possibility that they will deliberately or unintentionally disclose your company's confidential information. Some social media errors can be resolved with little or no consequences, while others can result in loss of reputation and credibility, decline in sales and even lawsuits.
If you have a social media policy in place, your employees will know exactly what they can and cannot do and how to behave on social media, and they will be much less susceptible to making mistakes.
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Provides a Clear Understanding of Your Company Culture
Social media can be an excellent tool for providing a clear insight into the culture and values of your company.
If your employees know how to use the right language and methods to reinforce your company culture on social media, they can generate more interest in your company and help build customer loyalty.
A social media policy enables you to maintain a positive perception of your company's culture and values.
Minimizes Loss of Productivity
When your employees are using social media, they may end up participating in social interactions that are unrelated to your business. This can result in significant loss of work time and productivity.
With a social media policy, you can limit the amount of time your employees can use social media for personal purposes.
Examples of the Consequences of Not Having a Social Media Policy
In 2011, an employee of Red Cross posted a message about drinking Dogfish Head beer and "getting slizzerd" on the organization's Twitter account.
This certainly caused some embarrassment, but Red Cross handled the matter well by saying that it was a harmless mistake. In another case, Chrysler had to apologize for using inappropriate language when the person who was managing its Twitter account posted a tweet saying that people in Detroit do not know "how to f***king drive".
If you are using social media extensively to promote your business, it is essential that you have a social media policy.
A social media policy can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your social media marketing strategy.
About the Author
Q&A: Professor Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business
As someone who is creating Asia Pacific’s business leaders of the future, what do you believe are the essential skills leaders require?
In many ways, we need leaders who are Renaissance women/men or polymaths, as opposed to specialists of an industry or a field. A polymath is a person with profound knowledge, proficiency and expertise in multiple fields and today’s leaders have to be able to combine various ideas, look at problems in novel and useful ways, and develop a broad and yet still deep set of skills, talents, and knowledge.
You’ve coined ‘smart’ and ‘sharp’ as skills of the future. What are these?
They are replacements for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, a concept coined by a US Army doctor in 1972 who observed that his pupils had different skills: dealing with machinery required ‘hard’ skills, while dealing with people and paper were ‘soft’ skills. This concept has served us well since, but I find it too binary, not to mention the semantic implications of the words themselves.
Soft implies gentle, delicate, mild, quiet, tender, weak. However, there is nothing soft in navigating competing perspectives and cultures, handling and delivering critical feedback or dealing with office politics. Instead, I prefer to call these skills ‘smart’. Hard implies rigid, difficult, heavy, static. But how can we think of engineering or software development as static or rigid? I believe ‘sharp’ is more apt as such skills need constant updating or sharpening.
I think it’s time to reflect on these classifications, because we can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.
How important are smart skills in leadership today?
Smart skills are more important than ever because we live in a world of extreme diversity: generational, ethical, value-based, gender, etc. Gone are the days when giving an order was an effective act of leadership. I personally work with people from five different continents and across five different generations, therefore as leaders, we need to know how to adapt, motivate, inspire and connect. We need to increase our investment in learning about them in action, especially as smart skills are more difficult to develop.
I believe that a successful leader today has to be both smart and sharp. Take cognitive readiness, one of my top 10 smart skills. In order to be cognitive ready, one has to master system dynamics, one of my top 10 sharp skills. Also, did you know that one of the primary reasons why digital transformation fails is not the absence of digital literacy, a sharp skill, but the need for more validation and adaptability, both smart skills. So, instead of thinking of these skills as binary, I prefer to think of them as the yin and yang; co-existing and complementing each other.
So, you can teach leaders smart skills then?
Yes, you can, via a combination of the classroom experience, plus an action component supported by deeply embedded reflection. At ASB we call this Action Learning, and we teach it both in the MBA and in the executive programs. For example, in teaching a leader emotional maturity as a smart skill, first they need to learn what it is, and then act on it, before reflecting on what we did and how we did it. And then to repeat it, but this time with more expertise and awareness. It’s not easy, but that’s why my favourite mantra is ‘the job is easy, the people are not’.
Discover Professor Padurean's successful skills for a digital transformation here