Social Media Realm Has No Plastic Rules

by Lisa Allison, Strategic Marketing Partners.

The relatively new world of social media is an ever-changing and evolving phenomenon, with not too many concrete guidelines. In the business environment, most of the rules that pertain to social media usage are unspoken and considered a given – don’t use your personal Facebook during work hours and definitely do not put up discriminating photos or posts that could land you in hot water.

However, with more and more plastic manufacturing businesses utilizing the networking, lead generation and talent acquisition powers that social media offers, it’s time to leave cyberspace for a moment and put some rules on paper.

Create a social media policy

When used properly, social media is a very impactful tool for finding new talent, as well as connecting the sales team with potential customers. The first step to protect a company is to set up a Social Media Policy for all employees.

A Social Media Policy helps ensure that everyone is aware of the boundaries and expectations established at the company related to online communication. For example, if the business requires sales managers to use a platform such as LinkedIn, employees should do so with a company domain email address. This not only protects the company from a potential loss of information, but also allows the company to establish ground rules and be in control.

Centralize leads

Also, it’s a good idea to require the sales team to provide quarterly reports of all business contacts, acquired through social media. Obtaining this information protects the business against losing precious contact information if the employee leaves the company. The last thing a company wants is for a hot lead to fall in the lap of the competition because a disgruntled employee left with all the contact information and vital correspondence.

Manage employee relations

Another important ground rule to establish is to never offer employee endorsements or recommendations on a social platform. It can be very tempting to praise a fellow associate with a LinkedIn endorsement after he/she has done something noteworthy, but use caution. What we all say on paper – or type – can be used against us in the court’s eyes. The Human Resource team should actively participate in drafting the Social Media Policy to protect the company from potential lawsuits over social media communications.

Keep in mind that these suggestions highlight the top level boundaries to consider when utilizing social media for a business. There are plenty of more detailed rules that companies can begin to incorporate in the office before an official policy is finalized. From consistency in representing a company’s brand to creating a time allowance schedule to prevent over usage, it is possible to start properly managing and leveraging the power of social media at your work place.

Lisa Allison is the marketing communications manager and social media strategist at Strategic Marketing Partners, Milwaukee, WI. The team of experts at SMP will be on hand at the 2013 MAPP conference in Indianapolis, IN, to assist businesses with setting up a LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter profile. For more information, visit