Social media policy for employees should be built on trust

By Karl Smith | @coachkarlpa

One thread that’s followed me through my career has been trying to connect things. I did it as a reporter, an editor, a designer, a website GM and all through my time as a manager and executive. 

So no surprise that I worked to connect to pieces I’ve read, both via Hootsuite. Both involved social media policy for employees, but they didn’t carry the same message. Or maybe they did. I guess it all depends how you connect them.

Social Media Policy

Your company’s social media policy should include trusting your employees. Photo courtesy of Rosaura Ochoa(CC Attribution)

The first one came across, at first, as one of those posts that make me cringe because, out of context, they make what really is a complex, strategic initiative and make it seem like a simple no-brainer. In “A 6-Step Guide for Creating an Employee Advocacy Program For Your Business,” Olsy Sorokina walks us through the benefits of leveraging your employee’s social networks to build your brand and, more to the point, how to make it happen.

The how is important here, because it’s not a turnkey solution. When you read through the steps, each little paragraph is densely packed with a lot of long-term hard work that really revolves around strategy and culture, which we all know is not easy to shift.

There was something else nagging at me about it, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I read a post by Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes. The headline said it all: “Why employers need to stop policing social media.”

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That’s it, I thought. That’s what Sorokina should have spelled out more clearly – to create true advocacy, you need to trust your employees. Holmes chastises companies that stalk employees’ (and potential employees’) social media accounts to see if they are, well, doing anything that might cost them sainthood. 

Which leads us back to the whole discussion about culture. If you say you have a culture that values work-life balance, how does that connect with you policing social media accounts? 

For clarification, there’s a difference between policing social media accounts and holding someone accountable when it is brought to your attention that they posted a selfie from the beach saying, “Called out sick today. The beach is too good to pass up.” There are no absolutes. But what is your general approach and what does it say about the culture you are talking about versus the culture you are actually nurturing?

Not sure how it all fits together, but in the meantime, I’ll just keep trying to connect these things.

Karl Smith is Senior Vice President for Member Value for Produce Marketing Association. Find Karl Smith on LinkedIn.