Several weeks ago, I wrote a guest post on PR Breakfast Club about the importance of transparency and full disclosure for PR professionals when posting online. While the Internet lends itself toward anonymity and pseudonymous user handles, it’s in the best interest of communicators to always disclose their relationship with a company, whether it is on Wikipedia, Facebook or an online forum. The same is true for your employees.
However, requiring disclosure raises new questions about posting online. Social media has handed every customer a direct line to the CEO. Every day, about 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook, 62.5 million posts are submitted to Tumblr and 340 million tweets are shared. Among these are rants, raves, complaints and questions about your company. When a dialogue is only 140 characters away, do your employees know (1) if they should respond to comments and (2) how to respond?
At the end of 2008, the United States Air Force Public Affairs Agency released a simple decision tree. The Air Force Web Posting Response Assessment listed several scenarios to determine if, when and how Air Force representatives should respond to negative comments online. The graphic went viral.
I think it’s testament to just how good this graphic is that it’s still applicable almost four years later. In fact, I have a copy posted on my wall right next to our own commenting guidelines.
Social media policies do not need to be massive tomes detailing every possible user interaction. As shown by the US Air Force, they can be a single-page decision tree. What is important is that your social media policy is adaptive and understood by everyone on your team, from the CEO to the new recruits. In fact, a study conducted by IBM recently found that company success correlated with CEOs embracing an open, transparent environment, which often comes with a clear social media policy and empowered employees.
Does your firm currently have a social media policy for responding to comments? What are your must-know rules?
Photo credit: Computer Keyboard by Mikkel Rønne