The use of social media is a growing trend in the market research industry and is quickly becoming an integral part of many studies. Social intelligence is effective in many ways: it can help shape what questions to ask the consumer, it can provide real-time insight into the customer’s mind, and can even predict opinions and behaviors. More importantly, social media enables you to reach out directly to your audience and address their questions and concerns in a manner in which they are comfortable.
Despite the advantages that social media can bring to your business, there are a number of concerns that need to be addressed before a strategic social media plan is put into place. According to the polling firm, YouGov, 42% of office workers between the ages of 18 and 29 discuss work-related issues on social networking sites. In spite of this large number, another study found that 64% of surveyed companies do not have a policy guiding how employees should conduct themselves or represent their company on social media sites!
Here at The Pert Group, we are leading innovations in the use of social media platforms in the market research industry to increase and enhance communication with both external and internal audiences. Employees are encouraged to participate in social media, especially as part of The Pert Group blog team. Before the blog was launched, however, it was critical to create a social media policy that would be signed by all employees of the company so that they would know and understand the guidelines.
Carol Boedicker, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Administration notes the following: “The reality is that while social media provides a great opportunity for your employees to participate in building your brand, it also carries inherent risk to your brand and/or company image if not managed properly. If you are among the businesses that are quickly learning that social media sites can be an effective business tool, you can’t afford not to have a well defined and communicated social media policy in place.”
Remember, with social media sites, once it’s out there, you can’t take it back, so it’s imperative that employees are keenly aware of the expectations regarding utilization of sites, both during and after traditional work hours.
The following are three “must haves” when it comes to developing your company’s social media policy:
- Acknowledge that you are personally responsible for the content of what you publish. Your employees should keep in mind their association with the company whenever they are using social media site. Make sure they understand that they should present themselves in a manner consistent with what they’d wish to portray to their colleagues and clients.
- Don’t disclose confidential information about the company or its clients. Clients, partners or suppliers should not be referenced without their approval. Likewise, in the market research industry, case studies mentioned online should not identify the product or offering until it has gone to market.
- Do not have any expectations of privacy. Any employees using social media should remember that co-workers, clients or the public can view online content at any time of day. Even if the content is posted after work hours, it is still a public forum and can be viewed by everyone.
These guidelines may sound simple, but they should be formally put in place to protect your company, your employees and your brand.
Does your company have a social media policy? What other concerns might businesses have when their employees are active online?