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Small and large businesses need to adopt a proper social media strategy to be successful, but this also can mean that individual employees with their own social media pages can become representatives of their companies online. Step one is to not only have a social media policy in place, but to also engage employees in the right behaviors, ensure they know which company hashtags to use and what content to share, and provide a training program that helps them improve their own social media brand, says Bianca McCann at Trifacta Inc. Joyce Maroney of Kronos Incorporated adds that companies should extend their business code of conduct to include the protection of confidential information even on social media. However, companies also need to be aware of personal freedom rights, especially with regard to employees’ social media accounts. Tiffany Jensen of Pure Grips says that organizations should give guidelines on how to represent the company in a positive light, but don’t set so many rules that they impede on employees’ freedom of speech. Firms also want to consult with an employment attorney to ensure their policies are in compliance, and that comprehensive training is provided to brand ambassadors, says John Feldmann of Insperity. Clearly defined roles enable employees and brand ambassadors to know their limits on what to share about the company. Michele Markey of SkillPath says firms need to identify the one person at your company who is responsible for handling or responding to negative comments or controversial topics, encouraging other employees to alert this person when needed. Dr. Timothy J. Giardino of Cantata Health & Meta Healthcare IT Solutions adds that social media policies need to provide general guidelines of acceptable behaviors to manage expectations, and leaders should reserve taking action only for at-work offenses or when an employee’s behavior places the company at legal risk. He adds that consistency in all policies and enforcement is key.

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