Social Media Crisis Management: Setting Clear Policies

Jonathan Bernstein crisis management, Crisis Prevention, Erik Bernstein, internal crisis management, internet crisis management, internet reputation management, Jonathan Bernstein, online crisis management, online reputation management, PR, reputation management, social media, social media crisis management, social media reputation management 1 Comment

When everyone knows the rules there’s a lot less room for trouble

Setting specific policies, and making said policies highly visible, is one of the most neglected aspects of social media crisis management. Whether it’s telling employees what’s safe to share or letting stakeholders know what type of behavior will get their posts deleted, putting down firm rules will save you a lot of headaches down the road.

First let’s talk employees. People want to share about what they’re up to, and the public LOVES hearing from those who work “in the trenches” at their favorite organizations. The concern we get from many is that once they allow employees to talk shop on social media, they’ll use it to slam their bosses and spill secret projects before it’s time. Well, guess what? With a policy, you can set clear guidelines on exactly what is posted. For example, you may have a policy which reads, “No public discussion of projects before marketing officially releases information.” You train on that policy, and if someone breaks it there is a trail of evidence showing they absolutely, without a doubt, deserve the punishment they receive.

Suddenly, just through setting policies, you protect yourself. You now have a leg to stand on when it comes to concerns like wrongful termination suits while bolstering your reputation, both internally and externally, yet still allowing employees a voice on social media.

How about on your actual social media pages? One of the most common situations organizations encounter is the toxic poster. This person may or may not have a valid concern, but they choose to express it through personal insults and/or inappropriate language. If you have no clearly stated policies regarding what’s allowed on your page, then you can create a real problem by deleting the offensive posts. If you have an existing policy of “no personal attacks and no cursing” posted on your page, then you can effectively take the high road and point out the fact that the posts were removed due to a violation of your guidelines, guidelines which apply equally to friend or foe.

Having policies in place can cover your rear in many situations. Policies are especially important in areas, like social media, where what’s considered acceptable behavior can be drastically different depending on the circumstances and individuals involved.  But remember – if nobody knows the policies exist, they’re not going to do you any good. Train, re-train, and make sure it’s beyond clear that every employee knows the rules.

Don’t overlook this social media crisis management must, start brainstorming on policies to protect yourself today!

The BCM Blogging Team

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