How Training Protects Organisations From Social Media Pitfalls

Social media is an undeniable player in the modern business world and training can help to prevent pitfalls that can put brand and business at risk.

Published on 12 September, 2016 | Last modified on 24 October, 2022

Social media is an undeniable player in the modern business world and training can help to prevent pitfalls that can put brand and business at risk.

Organisations should have a social media policy in placeSocial media is an undeniable player in the modern business world. Whether it is being leveraged for marketing efforts or simply considered a channel for customer engagement, social channels can no longer be ignored by organisational leaders. There is a range of statistics out there that confirm: over 90% of businesses use social media content as their main content marketing tactics.

This new approach to marketing, customer engagement and brand voice comes with new challenges for employers, employees in the marketing department, and beyond.

For example, did you know that employers can be held responsible for their employees’ use of social media outside work? Or that employee leaks of company information on social media channels are a common phenomenon?

Legal, Marketing and Beyond

Organisations can be held liable for legal issues arising from their employees’ social media use, such as defamatory or discriminatory social media messages to harassing Facebook comments or tweets.

Modern-day professionals (looking at you, millennials) often identify themselves with their company on their social media accounts – whether in a bio or under the career section of a page. Whenever there is a link between your employee and your organisation, this makes organisational liability possible on computers outside of the office and on personal accounts.

Beyond liability issues and to avoid any legal problems, it is also important to have a company policy and social media training in place, for the sake of consistent messaging, brand accountability and to make your employees aware of any unintentional (or intentional) pitfalls. So, whether you are looking at social media from a legal perspective or a marketing one, it is critical to ensure your organisation has legitimate social media policies for employees and the supporting training.
Let’s take a look at some common social media blunders to keep an eye on and a few tips for policy.

“There are a lot of different areas where businesses should be mindful when it comes to social media.”

Most Common Mistakes

Failure to Track: Without specific social media policies, many companies fail to track the influx of customer engagement on social media channels. From Twitter mentions to status comments, businesses should be on top of responses, especially when they are negative. Brandwatch reported on a study by Lithium Technologies which found that over 50 percent of customers expect an answer to their questions on Twitter within an hour – when the question involves a complaint that number rises to 72 percent. Policies can help dictate acceptable response rates and expected levels of monitoring.

Overposting & Underposting: Poor posting frequency is a frequent blunder when it comes to social media. Luckily, it is something that is easily remedied with the proper training and policies in place. Both overposting and underposting can lead to audience members hitting the “unfollow” button.

Instead of posting without a strategy in mind, listen to what your audience is interested in and respond to this with relevant and up to date contact that contributes to a conversation with your audience – and existing or new customers.

Inappropriate Content: Once you got your social media policy and a marketing strategy in place, the tone and nature of your content should be clear and everyone responsible for the business’ social media account can work with the parameters for what does not doesn’t qualify as appropriate. Posting inappropriate and not relevant content on social media can do more damage to a brand than most other mistakes.

No Policy in Place: The No. 1 mistake organisations make when it comes to social media is failing to have a policy in place at all. All of the issues mentioned above could have potentially been prevented with the proper policy and training. Social media means every word and move your business makes is noted in real time.

Advisor and Training Consultant ACAS explain how to work out a social media policy for your organisation, communicate your policy and what legal requirements you need to consider.

Policy and Training put into Practice

In order to effectively safeguard against the type of mistakes mentioned above, organisations should begin by creating a comprehensive policy. But what types of things should this document cover?

It’s useful to think of social media as a set of specific guidelines. This means outlining preferences for privacy settings, discussion points, conduct and confidentiality, explained Hootsuite.

Line Managers and Leaders should explain in this document what is and isn’t acceptable on social media. Can employees mention competitors? What can they share about company products and what needs to remain internal only? The key here is to be as specific as possible. Cover as much ground as possible with this official document and ensure it is distributed to employees new and old.

“Leaders must sit down and have a conversation about what is and isn’t acceptable.”

Training also constitutes an important part of this process. If possible organisations should hold some level of social media training for employees. The degree of intensity will depend on how often a given business interacts with the social media realm, but there are some general best practices for this kind of training that all companies should use:

  1. Role-play: One of the best tips for any training programme is to take the training and apply it to a real-life scenario. This method can help your trainees better absorb the materials and understand what your social media policy looks like in practice. Try creating a few mock examples. Ask your team to explain what they would do in these given scenarios and then review what was right or wrong about their decisions.
  2. Frequency: When it comes to social media training, recurring sessions are absolutely critical. Social platforms change their settings on a regular basis, after the initial induction training leaders should set up regular update sessions, explained Mashable.
  3. Written and Verbal: Social media policies and training guidance are often complex. There are so many different platforms with so many different rules. Training materials should be presented in a variety of formats. From verbal and interactive training to printed-out copies of the materials for reference, make sure your team has all the necessary tools at its disposal to safeguard against missteps.

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