Social media is an undeniable part of the B2B digital environment. Today’s customers expect you to be available online to entertain, educate, and answer questions they may have.
With 74% of global marketers investing in social media marketing, the channel allows you to connect with your audience, increase brand awareness, handle customer service, and even increase conversions.
However, social media also presents many risks. Thanks to growing trends like omnichannel customer service and employee advocacy, employees are also using social platforms more than ever to connect with your brand and customers.
In a world where everything and everyone is connected, one poorly timed or worded message could destroy your business and spiral into a full-blown PR crisis.
As your B2B company grows, it’s essential to develop a social media policy that aligns with your B2B’s marketing strategy to protect your brand integrity and avoid any legal issues.
Let’s look at why social media policies are important and how you can develop one for your business.
- A social media policy protects your brand’s integrity and reputation with employees.
- The guidelines should empower your employees to become brand advocates by using the correct messaging and tone.
- Your social media policy needs to include important legal, conflict, and personal account guidelines to protect your company.
Why is It Important to Develop a Social Media Policy?
With social media’s monthly active users expected to reach 3 and a half billion by 2023 (per Statista), a social media policy serves as a code of conduct to help your employees understand how to act on social media.
While many organizations wait until a PR disaster strikes to put a policy in place, proactively developing a strategy prevents you from ever having to deal with social media issues.
An in-depth social media policy will:
- Defend against legal and security risks to keep employees out of trouble
- Empower your employees to represent your brand accurately on social media
- Protect your brand with a cohesive experience and identity
With the right social media policy in place, you’re able to develop a positive digital culture for both your employees and customers.
Obvious Benefits of a Brand Social Media Policy
You might be worried that a social media policy diminishes the integrity and authenticity of your social media strategy. Will it take away your employee’s creative freedom? Do your social platforms lose an organic feel?
When your policy is done correctly, your employees should feel more comfortable bolstering your brand messaging on their feeds. As your employees become more acquainted with your brand’s guidelines and value, they’ll become your brand’s biggest advocates.
Additional benefits of your social media policy include:
- Maintaining a cohesive brand voice and tone
- Preventing potentially offensive posts
- Protecting the data privacy of stakeholders and customers
- Preparing for PR issues or data breaches
- Empowering your employees to feel more aligned with corporate policies
Your Guide to Creating a Social Media Policy
At a minimum, your social media policy needs to include information about sharing confidential company information, derogatory content, or posts that imply illegal activities. Other than these, it should include the following details:
1. A Plan for Dealing with Conflict
Things can escalate quickly on social media. With one comment, consumer sentiment can change and snowball into a much larger issue if it’s not handled effectively.
For example, if a consumer leaves a negative comment or review on your social platform, your employees should know how to respond in a way that elevates your brand.
Some companies may opt to handle these situations with specific staff members who specialize in conflict resolution. You may already have people on staff responsible for message approval, customer service, PR, and social engagement. These key players will ensure issues are handled correctly and timely.
However, it’s also important to include conflict rules in your social media policy so employees understand that they’re always representing your brand. A simple way to ensure employees follow the policy is to create pre-crafted and approved responses for common issues that appear on social media.
2. Who Can Speak for Your Company
Your social media policy needs to explain who can speak for your business on your social media platforms. For example, inform employees that they shouldn’t answer any customer complaints or questions that are directed to the company.
The degree of freedom you give employees will widely depend on your industry. However, for larger B2B companies, it’s better to err on the side of caution and be more restrictive.
If you let employees offer advice to customers, you’ll want to outline guidelines within your policy, such as:
- How to talk about your services, products, or company
- What details should and should not be shared with customers
- How to respond to customer comments with a respectful attitude and tone
With these guidelines, your employees will be able to communicate correctly within the parameters you set.
3. Personal Account Guidelines
Let’s be honest, with evolving social platforms and more privacy features available, you won’t be able to control (or monitor) everything your employees say and do on social media.
However, employees must understand how their behavior reflects on your brand. Whether or not employees are talking about you on their feed, your customers will still see them as a reflection of your brand. If someone is posting questionable comments, your customers will inherently question your business’s integrity.
Your social media policy should require employees to:
- Verify the accuracy of their facts
- Respect the law and refrain from illegal activities
- Avoid speaking negatively about your company or other companies
To take things to another level, you can ask employees to include a disclaimer on their personal profiles that claim all opinions are their own.
4. Security Best Practices for Employees
Unfortunately, social media is prone to frequent scams and security breaches. Your social media policy should outline how your employees can defend against attacks and stay secure to protect your company.
Within the policy, include guidelines that cover the following instructions to:
- Create secure passwords and turn on two-factor authentications
- Keep devices secure and software updated
- Contact the right point person when a breach occurs
- Identify risks before they present any detriment to your brand
When your employees understand how to engage in social media safely, your business and intellectual property become more secure.
5. Staying Compliant and Mitigating Legal Risks
As your business continues to grow, your social media platforms will begin to take on more risk. Your social media policy should include guidelines on how to credit sources or imagery and procedures around disclosing confidential information on social media.
If you’re in an industry like healthcare or finance, you may also need to include information surrounding lawful regulations. For example, financial institutions often need to include disclaimers that employees need to be aware of.
Above all, your policy should empower your employees to stay within the law by:
- Protecting private information
- Staying compliant within industry procedures
- Avoiding illegal activities
Guide Future Content with a Social Media Policy
When used correctly, social media can be a powerful tool for your brand. Whether you’re looking to grow brand awareness, increase leads, or improve customer service efforts, it’s important to consider both how your employees interact on their social platforms and what your customers and audience expects from you within each other’s context.
Here’s a sample collection of social media policies created by leading brands, put together by our friends at Everyone Social.
While you won’t be able to control every interaction, developing a social media policy ensures you have guidelines that shape how customers interpret your brand. The key here isn’t to encourage employees to stay away from social media. Instead, the goal is to empower your employees to become proper advocates of your brand.