George Orwell illustrates in his novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, that Big Brother wields total power over the inhabitants of Oceania. The fictional character leads Oceania as a totalitarian state, giving Big Brother full control and making inhabitants feel like they are constantly being watched by the Thought Police.
Did you know that your employees might sometimes feel this way too? Constantly looking over their shoulders, employees might feel like their employer is trying to control what they say and do on social media. Or do they? Do you have a social media policy? If so, do your employees even know it exists?
When creating your company’s marketing strategy, thus your social media strategy, one should consider a corporate social media policy.
Social media policies are meant to inform employees about social media use at and during work, on behalf of the employer, and as a representative of the employer. These policies can include, but are not limited to, privacy, identity, respect, and violations of said policy.
But how can you create a trusting work environment if your social media policy insinuates that you are watching them—watching what they post, what they say?
It’s important to communicate to your employees that your social media policy is meant to serve as a guideline for their professional or professional/social mix use of social media. What an employee says on social media as a representative of your company can positively and negatively affect the entire organization.
They need to be educated on social media, not just given a social media policy once, and then never revisit it. As employers, we cannot expect an employee to be an ambassador for our organization if they don’t understand what their individual social media use means to the organization. By educating employees on social media, we can reduce their misunderstanding of social media and the fictional, Big Brother.
A good example of this is a current situation I am in at my own employer. The company I worked for was acquired and I am assisting in the branding transition. In that transition, we need to update the acquired company’s LinkedIn profile to be reflective of the new company name. However, to do so, LinkedIn requires that the profile has less than 100 employees listed as current employees. Unfortunately, many employees have yet to adjust their LinkedIn profiles. For this reason, we emailed all employees who have the acquired company as a current employer and politely asked that they change it.
Boy, did the reality of Big Brother come out then!
We were responded to with negative emails asking why the company was monitoring employee social media accounts.
In the company social media policy (both the acquired and new), the company states that it may review social media accounts if it deems necessary. However, none of these employees were aware of that. Why? Because they didn’t know we had a social media policy, or they weren’t educated on what it means to work for a public company and have a social media account, personal or professional.
It’s good business practice to not only have a social media policy for employees, but also to educate employees often on what it means to be a representative of the company both on personal accounts and professional accounts.
By educating employees about their roles and the social media policy itself, employers can create a more trusting environment and ease employee anxieties about Big Brother.