Social Media Policies for your Small Business
Social Media Policies Story: I have a close friend who lives a very “normal life.” Career. Kids. Suburbs. He’s opinionated but not obnoxious. At parties he never drinks too much. In fact, he’s really a fun guy most of the time, so long as you hang out with him in-person. But online, his opinions become amplified. He updates his status on Facebook. He Tweets. He posts blasting reviews on YELP! and CitySearch.com. And it is because of his online “tone” that my friend had recently been let go of his now-former job. He was fired for going against his company policy where it concerns social media.
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I do hope he never reads this blog. I doubt that he will. He was always more of a give-information-guy than a learn-something-guy. He’s that one friend who would always tell me how harmless Twitter and Facebook was whenever I lectured him that these platforms were not his private platforms. We always argued about how he conducted himself online. (Maybe I secretly do hope that he reads this…?)
“I told her,” my friend would exclaim, after filling me in on one of his week-long tumultuous back and forth Facebook “conversations.” He had been arguing, via Facebook Timeline, with an ex-high school gal-pal. “And then I un-friended her!” And then he would dramatically swipe his index finger in the hair as if he became the Statue of Liberty, or liberty itself incarnate.
I don’t know if you are like my friend. He spends hours on Facebook and Twitter. But, to my friend, these two social media platforms offered him a place where he felt he could rant and fix people and save the world. Offline he would complain how nobody signed his last “Save the Wales” petition on Twitter. And yet he thought the person whom he lectured to on Facebook about racism in America would “think twice before ever making another comment like that one!” Reading his Tweets and viewing his online discussions on Facebook made me cringe. I don’t think he would ever be brave or rude enough to say some of the things he said in-person as he freely did online.
My recommendations to anyone who interacts with others online is to be exactly who you are on-line, as you would be at a party where you are the only blind person, white person, gay person, and Buddhist in the room. (My fired-friend would have a field day with that last sentence. He hates run-on sentences.)
When I couldn’t stand to see his Facebook outbursts his train-wreck Tweets anymore, I un-friended my friend on Facebook, and I Blocked him on Twitter. He didn’t speak to me for a month for doing that, which is so ironic; but I enjoyed a month’s worth of drama-free.
What exactly got my friend fired? It turns out that my friend inadvertently pissed off one of his company’s main clients. My friend took a very strong anti-religious stance to something someone said on Twitter and someone from one of his company’s affiliates was offended. I won’t go into details. But my friend made the mistake of thinking that his company would back him up on the issue he took umbrage with. They didn’t. His company fired him because he had always been very vocal about where he worked. What he should have done, in the first place, was to Tweet that his opinions were his and his alone. In fact, it should have been in his Twitter Bio Profile; especially if he was publically known to be in the employ of his former company. What his company should have done was to clearly make my friend, and all their other employees, understand and digest the Social Media Policies they already had in place.
We never want to hear anything negative about our business. Unfortunately, at some point it can happen. And it is legal. Think Yelp. But if you are a company who has employees who use social media platforms, you can help safeguard any negativity where it concerns them. You can help employees understand that what they “say” can be misconstrued and is permanent, as well as could be grounds for termination. Social Media Policies for your business are key to insuring keeping your business safe from onlin PR nightmares. Have a group meeting and go over every word of your policy with your staff.
There are many Online Social Media Policies available in Template form. Check out this one from: EricSchwartzman.com.
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