For businesses, social media marketing is a powerful way to grow their online presence. Consumers today expect brands to be present on their favorite social platforms. In fact, according to the 2020 Sprout Social Index, nearly nine in ten consumers will buy products from a brand they follow on social media. Now, more than ever, brands must engage. And businesses know that employees can be a real asset when you're trying to get the word out. They have their own social media accounts and they offer a way to reach more people. But to make employees into real advocates, businesses must ensure that they understand what the business is trying to accomplish. And no matter, whether someone posts in an official capacity or on a personal account, it's important that they use the appropriate tone, and messaging, and that they know what to avoid when talking about the business on social media. Whether a business is creating content for its website or blog, engaging with customers and potential customers in real time on social channels, or benefiting from the power of its audience, employees, and other influencers to spread the word about their product or service, it's important that they establish and follow a set of social media policies that everyone can understand. In this video, I'll walk you through an approach you can use to create a policy that directs your organization's social media strategy. Although companies often focus their social media efforts through social media marketing professional or a team within their organization, studies have shown that nearly 60 percent of people rely on the information that comes from regular employees. This means that their payroll clerk, front-line customer rep, or network administrator may have the power to significantly impact their brand's reputation. With little training, and clear guidelines, it's no surprise that employees can be a brand's greatest advocates and sources of influence in helping to amplify their companies social media marketing strategy. However, when the boundaries between social media interactions for business or personal become blurred, it can cause confusion and potential risk. Companies want to be sure that an employee's posts will not expose the company to legal problems or public embarrassment. Therefore, when inviting employees to participate in a company's social media efforts, it's important to first set the ground rules by establishing a social media policy and ensuring its firmly in place. Let's take a look at the social media policy of retailer Nordstrom. They post their social media policy on their website, so anyone, even people who don't work for the company can see it. Here it is. The policy starts by specifying that only people trained by Nordstrom can post on the official Nordstrom account. So there's a group of people that's trained to post on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and so on, those people would be social media marketers. Then the policy gives some information on what employees cannot post. Employees often have sensitive information, information that the company does not want to make public, so it's a good idea to specify clearly what people shouldn't talk about. Next are some lines about respecting customer privacy and avoiding disparaging comments about coworkers and vendors. Then Nordstrom makes it clear that employees can be held legally responsible for what they post, so they should make sure to stay within the company guidelines. One of the guidelines is a guideline for endorsers, which states that employees have to disclose that they are affiliated with Nordstrom, and they have to make it clear that their views are their own. Next, are specifications around conflict of interest. For instance, employees cannot use their social media profiles to promote a competitor. Posting contests on social media is popular, but Nordstrom does tell it's employees here that they need to get approval before running a contest or a promotion. Finally, Nordstrom recognizes that any activity on behalf of the company should be valued, and they state that they will pay their employees to talk on their behalf in social media, at least if approved. A social media policy is meant to achieve three core things. First, it must empower employees. A social media policy should encourage employees to get involved in sharing important company messaging, with their personal and professional online networks, and give them the confidence to do so appropriately. In our Nordstrom example, employees are given clear guidelines, and Nordstrom encourages participation by reinforcing that employees we'll be compensated for their work. Next, it must protect a brand. It helps protect the company's online reputation. A social media policy for a company sets the guidelines, rules, and responsibilities of employees when they post and comment on social media networks, whether it's on their personal profiles or on company owned accounts. It tells employees what tone and voice you want them to use when interacting with customers, which helps protect the brand's image. In our example, Nordstrom referred to company guidelines that can help employees to represent the company in a way that doesn't harm the brand. Finally, it must guard against legal risks to the organization. Businesses deal with legal restrictions and different policies they need to adhere to, privacy, financial regulations, data security, and so on. Providing guidelines for what employees can and can't say, reduces the risk for them and for the organization. Nordstrom's policy gives clear legal guidelines and with this information, employees can feel more confident that their participation falls within the guidelines and does not put them at risk.