The struggle is real. You need to generate content that is persuasive, interesting, honest, and compelling for your company on social media. It needs to speak to your target audience in a way that engages them. However, content should not upset anybody, intentionally or unintentionally. This seems almost impossible in a time where “trolls” can find a way to be offended by even the most benign chatter or image. How do you navigate those challenging waters?
The article “16 social media guidelines used by real companies” summaries of how several large companies offer guidance to their personnel about how to use their social media platforms. What struck me as I read these companies perspectives was the level of thoughtfulness and kindness that went into the wording. It seems completely clear that the organizations trust in their employee’s judgement, to a point. For the most part they are saying “Go with your gut. Don’t start trouble, and be generally kind.”
As an example, Intel’s guidance reads “Always pause and think before posting. That said, reply to comments in a timely manner, when a response is appropriate. But if it gives you pause, pause. If you’re about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, don’t shrug it off and hit send. Intel suggests that their employees will at least subconsciously know the difference between what is right and wrong to post. I feel that this may not be the case as people often do not realize they are making a mistake as it is happening.
The truth of the matter though is that social media is a platform that can bring great success or great failure. A badly worded or misplaced comment can create a lot of blow back, intense scrutiny and serious reputation and financial damage.
Therefore, how do you teach your employees to represent your companies’ voice? I suggest the same sensitivity training that has been used in organizations for years to limit serious workplace issues such as sexual harassment. All employees should be trained about the companies brand messaging, how the organization would like their brand to be perceived, and given the opportunity to look at some real life social media examples and analyze why they do or do not represent the company in a successful way.