Social media has become so much a part of everyone’s daily activities, and many use it as a way to promote their services, speak their mind and interact with others. Thus, companies who either have or utilize a social media presence need to also protect their brand and reputation from the online “acts” of their own staff/personnel.
An all too commonplace example: John X works for security company Y. During his social media networking, he posts about his clients and where he was flying to. He speaks about how they are paying him, how much he makes, becomes rude with another colleague with whom he disagrees, bullies him, etc.
Now, someone may think the following ― and an alarming number of people do. Since John X is not networking from the company’s Y social media account but his own, there is nothing wrong and no harm done. WRONG.
The Lousy Security Operative
Anyone who works for you and has his work title/position linked to your company represents your brand. They are responsible for your reputation and can also be a liability for you and considered as the weak link of your company or someone whose online activities are such that your competitors can use it against you.
A lousy security operative working for you shows the public how low your standards may or may not be and degrade the standards you appear to have when hiring people and how, apparently, you do not care about ethical considerations and personality traits.
It can also be used against your company in the market by your competitors claiming, “We have the best operatives available,” or “Our people are the utmost professionals,” etc.
How many of you have seen someone’s online behavior and thought, “Wow, I can’t understand how that company hired someone like him/her…” So we can see that a social media policy not only will protect your company’s reputation but it can also reflect the maturity and professionalism of your employees.
Advantages of a Social Media Policy
Another reason for having a social media policy is that you most likely won’t be dealing with as many social media crises when you have a proper one in place. Keep in mind that the quick spread of social media posts in today’s digital age can make crises go viral quickly. They may ruin your reputation, leaving a negative electronic footprint for you and your company.
Now that we’ve addressed why it is needed, let’s see what a social media policy is. Simply put, it is a set of rules/documents that outlines how a company and its employees should behave in online activities. In addition, your employees will receive advice on:
- What they should or should not do on social media platforms,
- How to protect your company’s trade secrets and improve revenue due to increased and positive productivity, and
- Stay aware of and avoid violating federal law.
Is there a one-size-fits-all social media policy for every industry? No, it depends on the industry you are operating within. And also, what your activities and values are, and what you would like to achieve. Therefore, each company must develop its own social media policy and social media crisis management plan.
Essentials of a Social Media Policy
The most basic concepts we could say that any social media policy for security companies should include are:
- A list with what not to speak about in public: topics/information that no one should mention in social media. Basically, do’s and don’ts.
- Approval or disapproval for employees to post pictures or drop clients’ names. Although ― at Athena Worldwide ― it is our policy that no one uses or mentions clients’ names or posts pictures, many other companies are OK with it. So again, it comes down to your company’s values and goals.
- Who will be the company spokespeople, and who will be the people in charge of your social media accounts?
- Do you know who will be the person in charge of writing or approving information and educational posts for your blog and social media accounts?
- Who will be responsible for dealing with and address complaints? Most of the time, it is up to the company’s management to deal with complaints which can be a poor choice as dealing with complaints comes down to managing a crisis and de-escalating the situation. You have to have the proper training in place to do so and not get emotionally involved.
- How will your company address training, promotional video, or website copyright infringements by other companies?
- What will be your direction on how to respond in online conflict situations? For example, how will you react if someone attacks your company tactics, your employees, etc.?
- Who will they assign as your social media crisis management person, and what will be your crisis management plan?
- Outline the basic steps that your employees can take to protect their own privacy online. Does your company provide essential cybersecurity awareness and insider threat awareness training?
- Will your company be offering online etiquette training to your employees?
- Will your company be enforcing consequences? Any social media policy ― without implications for people who break it ― is invalid. Your company must decide how to handle violations, list the potential effects, and make sure your employees understand enforcement.
Always have in mind: as a security company or practitioner, you are working with a particular clientele. You are in charge of their safety, their peace of mind, and their confidentiality.
How you represent yourself in social media, react to “challenging” posts and critiques, or what content you see valuable and professional enough to share in public all shape your virtual persona identity/footprint and your image as a security professional. It takes years to build a good image and reputation… and only a few words online to destroy it.