Corporate Social Media Policy: What can we learn from Sports?

This weekend’s emphatic Ashes victory for England was somewhat clouded over by an inexcusable use of Twitter, which has led to Cricket Australia having to formally apologise for an expletive tweet that was sent from its official account on day three of the second Ashes Test. Test umpire Tony Hill declined to give English batsman, Ian Bell out after an Australian review which indicated that Steve Smith had made a legitimate catch.


Whether the catch had been made or not, the reputation of Cricket Australia was clearly damaged by the outburst. To make matters worse the brother of Australian batsman David Warner made several abusive tweets aimed at opening batsman Shane Watson over his ability and character. Both events pose the question of just how the use of Twitter can bring negative publicity to an organisation.

The negative use of Twitter and cricket seem to have an on-going relationship. One of England’s premier batsmen, Kevin Pietersen, was fined in 2010 for a Twitter outburst following his omission from the one day squad, and later in 2012 after sharing disparaging remarks regarding the professional competencies of ex- England batsmen and Sky Sports commentator, Nick Knight. As detailed by the BBC.

Following Pietersen’s 2010 troubles, the English Cricket Board (ECB) released the following statement:

“It’s up to every player to be aware of the responsibility of their actions, and it’s up to the ECB to govern that. People need to be aware that you are putting yourself out there and you have to be responsible about your actions.” (BBC Website)

Cricket is obviously a current topic of debate at the moment in the UK, but Twitter rants have occurred in other sporting environments.  In 2011 Samoan centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu was reprimanded by the International Rugby Board (IRB) in the form of a 6 month ban and Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand was famously fined over £45,000 by the FA in 2012.

The use of Twitter by figure heads, such as professional sportsman is always going to produce controversy, if used for rants and public disputes. But how can this relate to companies and how employees use social media? Working for a digital agency, we are encouraged to be active on social networking sites but are reminded that we have a responsibility to act in an appropriate manner. Although what defines appropriate in some businesses isn’t always clear. This is why it may be important for companies to adopt a clear cut corporate social media policy and below are four tips of things to include:

 

4 things to Include in a Corporate Social Media Policy

 

Create a Brand Tone  of Voice

Consistency is important, particularly when a company has various employees involved in posting and responding on behalf of the organisation through the medium of social media.  This also applies to the much discussed concept of being ‘transparent’ when using social media. For example it is good practice to initial any personal twitter handles if posting or responding on behalf of a managing director or company spokesman. This will help with clarity and reinforce trust with your customer base.

Have Brand Reputation Management Processes in Place

Reputation can be everything to organisations. So it is recommended that you have a policy that clearly defines how you should react to any negative comments or reviews – and how quickly this should be done. Simply deleting negativity may do more harm than good, but proper planning in how to respond to negativity can lead to public displays of good and efficient customer service.

Have a Guide for Company LinkedIn Profiles

LinkedIn profiles should be a part of a wider business and corporate communications piece. Any employee should be recognisable as an ambassador for their company or organisation. Providing employees with assistance, guidelines and an understanding of the importance of a correctly set up profile with links to the organisation, will boost individual and company profiles.

Personal Profile Responsibilities

Professional sportsmen have a responsibility to their club, country and fans when deciding to use social media. This principle should be adapted by any employees that have company connections within their social media profiles. For example, many people proudly add who they work for on their Facebook profiles; however with these kinds of proclamations come an element of responsibility and employees should be aware that they could damage their employers’ reputation by posting irresponsibly.

Here are some other examples of advice on corporate social media policy :

10 Tips for Creating a Social Media Policy for your Business 

Social networking and how to develop a policy

5 Noteworthy Examples of Corporate Social Media Polices 

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