In the wake of last week’s KitchenAid tweet-tastrophy, it’s a good time to take a hard look at your company’s social media policy. Don’t have one? Unless you relish the chance to put your crisis communication abilities to the test, you may want to add one to your employee handbook. So here it is. Your new social media policy: Be nice. Be smart. Be professional.

That’s it. I’m not one for long-winded explanations or a complicated set of rules and regulations when, as professionals, we are expected to act professionally (most of the time). No need for handholding here. What we need is to encourage employees to stop checking their professional mindset at the door when they log into their social accounts.

Here are the big 3 of social media policy:

  1. Be nice. Your prospects are using social media to research services and connect with brands like yours. Your employees, essentially your brand ambassadors, represent your organization both on and off company social media. If a disgruntled employee drops an F-bomb about a difficult client or spouts off about horrible internal management practices on a personal or company account, it reflects on your entire organization. Make sure employees realize their voices are now amplified. And, while it is well within their rights as individuals to complain about their job on their personal accounts, it’s also well within yours as an organization to protect your brand from this negative talk.
  2. Be smart. Unless you’re a political- or cause-driven organization, it’s best to steer clear of controversial topics on company social media. If your company decides it would like to talk about a current event or issue, share a link or mention it in a post – sans opinions – and invite your audience to weigh in.
  3. Be professional. Attorney Jay Sheperd said it best:

    “If you’re concerned that your employees won’t understand what you mean by ‘be professional’ then you may have a management problem or an employee problem. Or both.”

    If you can’t trust your employees to figure out how to be professional, your issues extend far beyond the realm of this post.

You don’t need to drown your employees in rules and regulations when it comes to social media. With strict, regimented guidelines, you run the risk of taking away the authenticity of social media – which defeats the whole purpose of social media in the first place. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs — that’s where your customers go to interact with you outside of the confines of “business.” Just be sure everyone in your company understands the professionalism they hold extends to their tablets, smartphones, desktops and laptops.