Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media have become a critical part of marketing and communications programs. Your customers hang out on social media, so there are legitimate reasons why employees need to access social media as part of their jobs. Your challenge is to prevent employees from compromising your company’s reputation online.
Once upon a time the easiest solution to online security was to just block internet access to employees. That approach may protect your network from malware, but it doesn’t protect your company’s online reputation. Your employees are checking Facebook and sending tweets during working hours, even if they aren’t using company workstations. The new phenomena of BYOD (bring your own device) is actually encouraging employees to conduct company business on their own iPad’s, Blackberry’s, and iPhone’s to use social media for business.
The best way to protect your online brand is a combination of cooperation and coercion. Most organizations have a clear set of guidelines dictating online conduct employees, and clearly defined consequences if they don’t. Here are a few common guidelines to set for your employees in their online use:
· Do not share confidential information. Never share information about company projects, coworkers, or customers. Have employees sign confidentiality agreements and remind them to keep company secrets. (Consider the excited salesman who posted on LinkedIn about this killer proposal he was working on for a company he named – the competition got the bid and he got fired.)
· Have employees identify their company. You need to be transparent online, so make it clear when you are talking about your employer.
· Obey copyright laws. Don’t use images, videos, music, or published material without permission, especially when posting content for the company.
· Avoid online arguments. Don’t getting into a shouting match online – no one ever wins and inflammatory statements could come back to affect you and your company.
· The internet is forever. Remind employees that the online errors are indelible and can’t be erased.
· Explain how they CAN use the company name. Establish positive, clear guidelines about how employees can use the company name.
· Training and more training. Be sure to provide social media orientation to all employees, have a social media policy in place and give them refresher courses.
Lastly, have a clear set of disciplinary measures in place for employees who break the rules. Managing your online brand is critical, and if an employee threatens your online reputation, be prepared to take the necessary action.
What tactics or guidelines have you set in place for your brand and employees to follow in protecting your online security?
Post by Terri-Ann Cormier
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