Social Media Policy

As more tools bring the convention, meeting and Trade Show communities into the digital age, they also bring their own set of challenges. Social media is one of those moving targets. It’s a valuable tool that allows you to communicate (with your clients, prospects, staff, industry colleagues, press/media) with lightning speed about everything  (from  special sales, new technical products’, maintenance reminders to event promotions for your next upcoming activation marketing event)…….but  the innate power also has the potential for misuse or missteps. A simple social media post could start a corporate PR crisis, escalate a situation with an angry client or even put Board of Directors and the company in legal trouble.

Who of us hasn’t seen an errant post, a questionable choice of words, a snarky derisive comment or even an innocent message taken totally out of context?  Having a written social media policy can help ensure that your company avoids these issues while experiencing all the positive effects of social networks. Below is suggested information to include in your policy. Whether you use an app with a private social network or a public social network, use the points below as a starting place for discussion so that you create a social media policy that’s customized to the needs and culture of your company and marketplace.

Basically, in this climate of heightened sensitivity to all issues, it’s impossible to limit free speech for your staff on their personal SM platforms yet it doesn’t take much for the thread to unravel from personal to corporate.  Since we can’t ban posting, we can emphasize discretion and perhaps a pause before posting

Let’s simplify it….one of our favorite clients is our friends from Photo Booth Expo….a cavalcade of streaming social media posts from a fun event where a staggering amount of business is transacted.  One of the catch phrase slogans they use, “Santa saw your posts from the Photo Booth Expo…he’s bringing you clothes and a bible this Christmas”, applies to what should and what should not be posted by association staff, company employees & team members and even the marketing department controlling the content, Board of Directors and just about anyone that can really mess things up in hyper time and speed.

Content You Should Post

If you’re not sure what your employees or Board of Directors should say on social media, make it clear which types of posts current and future staff and board members should feel free to create. Examples include: General announcements and reminders, Event and meeting information, Event photos, Polls to collect opinions about issues in your industry and Content that your prospective customers and current clients would find useful.

Remember, don’t post too much; bombarding association members or clients with too many updates will eventually make them tune out. But if you make sure that your social media posts are relevant, they will come to rely on your social channels for receiving up-to-date information.

Content You Should Never Post

Just as important as knowing what you should publish is knowing what NOT to post. Collect feedback from your senior management, Board and staff about posts that should not be made in addition to the items below and include them prominently in your policy.  Never post: Photos of children without parental consent, inappropriate  Photos taken of anyone without their consent, Confidential business (or anything hinting at it), an individual’s private information, disparaging comments about competitors or public officials, posts directed toward a specific person, anything promoting a personal agenda and Inflammatory or defaming remarks

Avoiding posts like these will help prevent legal problems while preserving harmony.

How to Handle Negativity

One of the most difficult challenges that social media presents is the potential for negative posts from meeting attendees, association members or your clients. Whether an association member has made a post personally calling out an employee or Board member with inflammatory remarks, a complaint or is simply making passive-aggressive comments, write these best practices for de-escalating the situation into your policy:

  • Don’t ignore the negative post by not responding. Take it as an opportunity to publicly show that the company cares what clients and the public think and is willing to work with them.
  • Reply indicating that you understand the issue (and keep this part to yourself….even if it’s unfounded) and that you acknowledge their concerns.
  • Move the conversation offline and out of the public view. Tell them that you’ll message them directly to continue working with them on this problem or leave your contact information and invite them to reach out to you.

When responding to a negative post, you have several goals: preserving the company reputation, repairing the relationship with the customer as much as possible and taking the conversation offline. This last point is especially important to limit detractors from posting more negativity and escalating the situation. Remember, do not respond defensively or engage in an argument with individuals on social media. It solves nothing, reflects badly on the corporate culture, increases animosity…….and we can all agree…it never ends well.

Whenever you’re posting or responding to a post on social media as an employee, C-Level executive, owner or board member, remember this simple rule: If you’re asking yourself is something ok to post, it probably isn’t.

Mitch Isaacs, VP Marketing, , Las Vegas Expo Complete Show Services, 702-248-6200

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