Social Media Etiquette Training for Employees

The recent Facebook, Instagram, and What’sApp outage was a case study in just how many of us rely on social media for news, entertainment, and short mental escapes. You might be forgiven for believing that you don’t need to provide social media etiquette training for your employees. But incidents of employees going rogue or posting inappropriate content happen all the time. Some 82% of Americans use social media, after all.

Just as you review your vacation and office policies with new employees, so should you provide social media training to every employee. If you haven’t created a training session, now’s a great time to start with these five social media etiquette guidelines.

1. Develop Formal Social Media Guidelines.

Before you begin, develop an overall set of guidelines to govern what you want them to do. Like any good governing document, think about this one as a living set of guidelines instead of rigid rules. As new social media accounts are adopted, add new guidelines for it. More importantly, plan to review your guidelines annually. This isn’t something to do once and forget. The yearly review gives you the opportunity to see what’s working, what needs adjusting, and what is missing.

To develop your guidelines, take a look at what other companies are doing well, and don’t be afraid to use them as examples. And take the time to add screenshots of what NOT to do. Because an image is worth so many words!

Since humans make mistakes, you’ll also want to develop policies about what to do when things go a little sideways. Things to consider include:

  • Which social media platforms are the priority?
  • How will you handle negative comments on social media?
  • Who will respond to negative comments?
  • When should you ignore negative comments?
  • How long does someone have to provide a response?
  • When should someone escalate the response?
  •  When should you block someone?

2. Show AND Tell. 

Your guidelines govern what you want them to do, and should also show them how to do it. You may have a blanket policy of never discussing politics on social media, but don’t leave it at that. Offer a range of examples to show what you consider a political post.

Consider adopting a standard disclaimer for employees to use and to provide them with a bit of cover when they post about the company. Sprint uses “donating my status to sprint” as the preface to any work-related post on an employee’s personal account. It adds a layer of transparency and helps build trust with their and your audience.

Train for Each Platform.

You’ll also want to provide training for the specific platforms. Not everyone knows how and when to share your company’s Facebook page with their friends. While some may point to generational differences as a consideration for this type of training, remember Millennials and Gen Zers essentially live their lives online and share everything. Your etiquette training can include the wealth of information available from each platform’s help center (for example, How Do I Share a Page with Friends?). Role-specific case studies of social media use by a salesperson, a customer service representative, a repair person, and others is also a useful addition.

Be specific about when you want employees to engage social media. Some things to consider include:

  • Should they include links to your official social media accounts in their email signatures?
  • Do you want them to connect with each new contact on LinkedIn?
  • Should they Tweet once a week?
  • Have you included industry rules about social media in your guidelines?

Above all, please be aware that there may be legal issues if you require employees to engage in sales or marketing activities off the clock.

Share Bad Examples, Too.

As part of your etiquette sessions, consider addressing what they should NOT do on social media. Never assume everyone knows or agrees about what’s appropriate on social media. This can be especially important in fields like financial services and health care, where confidentiality rules apply. So you’ll need to have a game plan for responding to incidents when someone steps over the line. Share it with your employees so they also know what to expect.

3. Make it easy. 

If you want your employees to use social media, you need to make it as easy as possible. Begin by acknowledging that this is something extra outside their normal workload. But if you make it fun and easy, you’re likely to have more people doing it. Some companies use their intranet to share specific news and images that they’d like shared more widely on social media. Others gamify their social media etiquette training program. We all love gaining badges to acknowledge a new skill.

Another tactic to encourage employees to follow the program is by helping them bond as a community. One way to do this is by creating a “safe place” for them to offer feedback, share ideas, ask questions, and to help one another. If your company uses Google Drive, the new Spaces feature makes this simple.

4. Identify Good Role Models.  

Identify your enthusiastic, social-media savvy employees and ask them to educate and mentor those who need a little hand holding. To be successful with such an approach, ignore the traditional org chart and pair compatible people, even if it means mentoring a supervisor. This is a chance for someone to shine as a mentor. And don’t forget your upper-level management. They need to be tasked with (and held accountable) for social media use, too. Speaking of accountability…

5. Recognize Successful Employees. 

As with anything in life, if we’re not held accountable, chances are we’ll stop making the effort. After all, there’s a reason ~80% of New Year’s resolutions are broken in February. So you’ll need to have a plan in place to monitor, measure, and encourage your employees’ social media efforts. As a new  aspect of your social media marketing strategy, you’ll want to develop a means of measuring their contributions to your goals.

More importantly, make an effort to reward the behavior you want. Gift cards and cash are always appreciated. Gamification programs are designed to appeal to our competitive nature. Apps like Spinify are available for businesses, making it easy to set up and motivate your employees.

Ready to Get Social?

The EVG team is available to help you get started developing or by providing social media etiquette training guidelines for your employees. As a sociable bunch, we recognize not everyone is familiar with all the different platforms, and pitfalls, out there. Give us a call or send an email. We’ll help you develop your skills for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platform you’d like to use.

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