Remember the good old days? You know, that time when disgruntled employees and clients might feel the need to vent about your company but would do so on a “personal” level, in the confines of a conference room — during a private phone call or even in an email. Yes, prior to the social media explosion “talking trash” about your company didn’t travel very far or certainly in comparison to the “viral spread” that can happen today.
Social media has given everyone a voice and a very loud one at that, where the words can have global ramifications. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have made the world very small indeed, much of the time in a good way, but sometimes not so much.
Here are three things you should do to minimize the potential for business “drama” brought about by social media trash talk:
Unfortunately, all employees may not exercise “common sense” and “discretion” and will turn to social media to vent their frustrations and challenges. In order to ensure that such potentially harmful transgressions will not occur, you should have a comprehensive corporate social media policy that is signed by every employee when he or she accepts a position with the company. Make this policy as definitive as possible and ask your business or employment attorney to review the document to be certain you are within legal boundaries. This policy should be included in each employee’s terms of employment.
While the goal is to have a policy in place that curtails any negative comments on social media, occasionally an employee, or even a client or other business contact, might do a social media post that references your company, a specific employee or group of employees. Oftentimes, these comments, especially the negative ones, necessitate a swift response. An effective strategy is to assign an administrative assistant to monitor the three main social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) or to assign someone in Human Resources or Marketing the responsibility to read and respond, depending upon the size and organizational structure of your company. It is also helpful to use Google Alerts to monitor your company name on the Web.
The best way to ensure that employees don’t talk trash about the company or co-workers is to provide a culture of open communication whereby all employees are encouraged to discuss their thoughts and challenges with a supervisor or manager. When employees have an outlet to “vent” their issues, it is less likely that they will turn to social media to air their grievances.
Rude, offensive, and potentially reputation-damaging comments do not belong on social media or in any type of forum whereby they can go viral. This is an area of the business in which owners must remain attentive. The best approach is to create and enforce your social media policy before a problem occurs.