*This post has been updated as of April 2016*
The transparency of social media and the speed at which news can travel is a scary thought for many construction businesses. You are putting your reputation on the line by giving people an insight into your company and you have to be prepared to deal with this.
Therefore, it’s important to set out some rules that will define how you’re going to communicate online. A social media policy outlines the corporate guidelines or principles of communication in the online world for employees and business owners.
Most construction companies have existing communications policies (for email and phone), and should therefore extend these policies to include online communication guidelines.
Ideally, you need to involve all company departments (not just marketing) and ensure that every employee knows the key themes and messages within the policy, including examples of what they can or can’t do – and the consequences.
So why exactly do you need a Social Media Policy?
- Protect your online reputation – a policy protects the organisation by setting boundaries around what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. Companies have different personalities so the tone and content of their social media updates should reflect this. Clearly communicate this brand identity internally so there’s no room for misunderstanding amongst employees and supply chain partners.
- Provide a framework for crisis management – a policy provides structure to both business owners and employees so that they know how to handle negative comments and PR. During a crisis, communicating on social media is a great way to keep your audience informed and update them of the steps you are taking to solve the problem. If the news is false, you have the opportunity to quickly set the story straight.
- Raise awareness of your brand – setting clear guidelines protects and enables employees and helps them understand ways they can use social media to help achieve business goals. For example, policies should advise employees how commenting on blogs or sharing links on social networks can boost brand awareness and drive traffic to the company’s site. Your employees are your biggest brand ambassadors so empowering them to represent your company online and build relationships with prospects and industry peers increases your visibility.
What should be included?
Social media policies are usually unique to every company depending on how strict or lenient they are. As I said earlier, it also depends on a brand’s personality and tone of voice. Rules that are appropriate for one company, may not necessarily apply to another. They should, however, have some essential components. A good social media policy clearly outlines:
- What the company will and will not say/do online.
- What employees can and cannot say/do online.
- What members of the public can and cannot say/do on company property (eg. offensive comments on blog posts).
The problem with some policies is that they seem too complicated and may frustrate employees. Keep it simple and aim to put together a policy that encourages your employees to be what they are: the face of your company. Don’t be so strict that they need permission for every single post they share online.
Trust plays a large role here. Do you trust your employees to say/do the right things? If not, you have a hiring problem, not a social media problem!
Does your company have a social media policy and are all employees aware of it? If not, do you think they should have one?
Are social media policies in the construction industry fairly lenient or strict with a long list of do’s and don’ts?
Visit Social Media Governance to see a list of social media policies for some well known companies and brands.
And if you need guidance on developing an effective social media strategy for your construction business, download our updated 2016 Social eBook here.