Social media is a term which represents the current state of the internet and how we use it on a daily basis. Social media is now a part of business, whether you want it to be or not. If your business is not on social media then you are making a big mistake in how you communicate in both B2B or B2C environments.
However, something which gets overlooked time and time again is social media training on a corporate level. Many businesses just seem to feel that it is not an important element of being online. The reality is that it is a crucial part of taking business online. I truly believe that most of you reading this have no idea of just how bad things can get when you make a mistake on social media until you actually make that mistake.
It can damage brands, burn personal and professional reputations, cost you a job and can be the easiest way of publicly humiliating yourself on a global scale. That is real damage regardless of whether you are a big corporation or a small company. You should be training your staff and making them aware of the pitfalls when using social media. Help them understand the good and the bad elements of posting to the world.
[easy-tweet tweet=”Social media disclaimers on your profiles won’t save you.”]
At the most basic level, companies and brands want employees to represent themselves online professionally and in a way which is consistent with the brand and policies. At an advanced level, some businesses may wish to train an elite team which springs into action on social media when extraordinary situations arise that are simply too much for the core social media team to handle alone.
Training your employees
You can’t tell people what to share and what to post. This is not about putting a list of rules in place for employees to follow. Training should cover both policies around social media use but also how to optimise social media to enhance their personal brand and help them grow online. If your employees grow their presence online this will in turn have a positive effect on your business presence online.
A social media policy should not be structured as a list of rules for people to follow, it should be guidelines which specifically focus on business matters on social media outlets such as references on how to handle sensitive company information or guidelines on interacting with competitors. It should also identify repercussions for embarrassing the company on social media or doing something which damages the brand.
As mentioned, some companies may find it useful to train up an elite team of social media power users who can handle everything from a poor comment from the CEO to major company news or a big press release.
Guiding your staff on what you expect when they interact online gives them a clear view of what they should and should not post. What is appropriate and what is not. What people post on their personal social media accounts is something you have no control over however if you have guidelines and structure in place then it allows you to act fast should something go wrong.
Training your social media employees
Businesses now have social media teams, staff who are tasked with creating content on social media as well as responding to customers and trying their best to keep the online customer happy.
While companies train social media staff about the software and the tools that they use to manage their social media, you also need to make sure there is a practical level of training.
Extraordinary situations can unfold very fast online and can be wild and unpredictable. That thing you don’t want to go viral could well end up going viral. Once you post something online it is hard to truly get rid of it, even the delete button won’t guarantee you safety.
The best way to practically train your social media team members is to set up dummy accounts on your platforms and load them up with challenging tweets and comments. Run the simulation in real time through a social media scheduler and see how they react and respond to all different types of comments before you let them loose on the real people of the internet.
This creates a realistic setting for people to get some experience in without the pressure of making a complete mess of something which could cause damage to the brand before they even start their role properly!
Disclaimers won’t save you
Social media disclaimers on your profiles won’t save you. It is an illusion that you are protecting yourself legally and that you are not representing the opinions of the company.
You can include stuff in your bio such as “opinions are my own” and “RTs are not endorsements” but the reality is that they have zero effect on anything. They won’t save you if you land yourself in hot water. Including something in your profile to the nature of “opinions are my own” won’t give you licence to say what you please.
If you say something stupid online you will still end up in trouble and the company still has the right to get rid of you if you damage their brand or reputation. Your opinions will still be your own. Your job? Not so much.
These are simply legal sounding bit sized expressions that do nothing at all to keep you safe. Its like people on YouTube who upload a video and put “no copyright intended” in the description thinking they are safe. Its like the ridiculous Facebook chain status scams we see popping up over time which references things such as the Rome statute.
You can by all means include these phrases in your bio if it helps you sleep better at night, I won’t begrudge you for doing it and I won’t scoff when I see it in your profile but they don’t actually mean anything.
As for “RT’s are not endorsements”…well they kind of are, even if you stick that in your bio. A quoted retweet where you add your own opinion is not an endorsement, you are quoting a tweet to add context to what you are saying. However a straight retweet without anything added on is an implied endorsement, whether you want it to be or not.
By retweeting something with no comment or explanation, you are implying that you agree with whatever that tweet may say. So the best way to get around potential confusion here? Retweet with a quote OR retweet and then add a tweet in reply to that retweet which adds your opinion if you are not endorsing that tweet. This will limit potential confusion for your followers.
There is also situations where people retweet others to mock or show how ludicrous they are which is of course not them endorsing that users. Basically, RT’s are open to interpretation regardless of what you put in your bio so don’t assume that if you mention something there you will be safe.