In recent weeks, I’ve been working on drafting social media policies for several new organizations that I work or volunteer with. And while each organization uses social media differently, one common thread has been evident in each organizational training:
While an organization can easily say “here is how we will engage in social media,” it is important to realize that your employees, your volunteers and your social media administrators will all contribute to your agency’s reputation in the social space.
But you cannot assume that all of your employees or volunteers understand how to most appropriately engage in social media. This is why training and orientation to your social media policy is of serious importance.
Here are some basic guidelines to consider:
- Employees and Volunteers are responsible for their personal engagement and their privacy settings in social media. Not only should this be said out loud to employees and volunteers, but there are a couple of very specific recommendations that I make in this area. They include recommendations to:
- Conduct the “privacy review” of your settings on Facebook every 3-6 months. Facebook is notorious for changing its privacy settings regularly and it’s important for you to be in touch with these changes as they occur.
- You should look at your Facebook profile from the perspective of a non-friend. Are you exposing more than you wish to? Often people don’t realize that both profile pictures and cover photos show up publicly on your timeline, including all of the comments of your friends. You can choose to hide each of these from your timeline so that no one on the outside can see these pictures.
- It’s also important to look at the “timeline & tagging” setting on Facebook. Did you know that Facebook employs facial recognition in pictures and will ask your friends to verify your identify in pictures? You want to turn this setting off. To do this, look under the “Timeline and Tagging” setting, look for the “Who sees tag suggestions when photos are uploaded that look like you” and turn that setting to “no one”
- On Twitter and other platforms, don’t be afraid to block or report spam-like accounts. How do you determine if an account looks spammy? If their Twitter handle seems convoluted, they have an egg-like profile picture or if their tweets are highly repetitive, feel free to block these accounts. You don’t need to have spammy accounts following you, even if they share your content.
- Employees should think twice before being “friends” on social media. This issue can be tricky because, often, people spend so much time with those that they work with that it seems natural to also follow each other on social media, right? The reality is that because you spend so much time together, you probably shouldn’t follow each other on social media unless you truly are friends outside of work.
- Employees, with different levels of organizational authority, should disconnect from each other. If one employee is responsible to evaluate the performance of another employee, social media posts may present some awkward moments, particularly when employees post after calling in sick to work. It’s often easier to become friends later when you no longer have a power differential in your relationship.
Beyond these recommendations, it is important for your employees and volunteers to understand that you all share in your agency’s reputation online. This means that if they post content that they might regret later, it could also influence how others feel about your organization. If employees and volunteers feel part of your agency team, they will be important supporters and protectors of your agency’s image well into the future.
Bottom line? Good social etiquette is everyone’s responsibility.