Social media has become such an exciting tool for enhancing corporate engagement in recent years. It lowers the barriers of communications immensely by promoting brainstorming, trust and networking opportunities throughout the organization. It gives employees that essential feeling of belonging to a community. But as any shop teacher will tell you, tools are great. Just make sure you how to use them — otherwise you could get hurt.
Here’s how to get started:
- Know exactly what kind of culture you want to create inside your company. This way, you’ll be able to identify the social media experience that will promote that culture. Do you want an egalitarian, collaborative environment? Then set up an online community in which everyone can contribute information, ideas and opinions.
- Draw up a terms-of-use policy. Assuming you want that collaborative community, you will want to open the social media tools up to everyone throughout the company. They should feel free to speak their minds. But that doesn’t mean they can be rude, abusive, give away proprietary information, be libelous, etc. Set the ground rules in advance, so people will know what the boundaries are.
- Don’t punish your people for speaking their minds. You may not always like what they have to say, but you can love the fact that they’re saying it. Trust is alive in your organization and people care enough about what’s happening to go out on a limb. This is a good sign.
- Limit the layers between the CEO and the “publish” button. It’s becoming fashionable for leaders to hire ghostwriters for their blogs, even Twitter posts. Big mistake. Of course, great corporate leaders may not be great writers. But to make social media really work as a culture builder, the messaging must be authentic, with a feel of immediacy. You’ll lose the advantages of social media technology if it’s ghosted and vetted into a bland mush that only your legal counsel would appreciate.
- Keep your promises. If your leadership has committed to posting updates and blogs according to a schedule, keep those posts coming. A stale site will dry up your culture. Operate your site according to the principles and rules that you established at the beginning. Remove abusive comments but publish all the others. (If trust is an essential component to your culture, if a comment comes to your site that feels especially hot-headed, do the contributor a favor and double-check with him or her to make sure it’s still okay to post.)
- Don’t spy. Other social media outlets (like Facebook) are rife with opportunities for people to show their most unprofessional selves. Their resumes may be posted on various job search engines. Leave that stuff alone if you want a trust-based culture.
When it comes to using your social media tools to support and enhance your culture, there is no universally correct way. Know what’s right for your culture. And then be specific about the choices you make.
Image credit: skynesher, via iStock