It’s time to review your brand’s social media guidelines.

Start by asking these 5 Qs.

Your employees can be your business’ biggest advocates on social media; especially, when we consider content gets two times more engagement when shared by a personal profile over a company profile.

But, as we’ve recently seen in the UK, with the Gary Lineker x BBC social media storm, it can get messy. This unique case is a reminder that brands should probably check in on those employee social guidelines they wrote back in 2012.

So, if you’re looking to do that, we’re here to help. Here are 5 things you should consider.

1. Do your guidelines reflect the world we live in today?

The world’s changing fast – something that’s reflected more on social media than anywhere else. The online opinions of an employee and its organisation were once completely separate, but these days, the lines are a little more blurred. This is why it’s oh-so important that your guidelines are up-to-date, easy to understand, and reflect your brand’s current opinions, not those from ten years ago.

2. Do you need separate guidelines for different people in your business?

Some of your employees are more publicly aligned with your brand compared to others. With the BBC, for example, Gary Lineker is considered part of the BBC brand, so his opinions could be perceived as the opinion of the organisation. But if a cameraman from the News had shared the same thoughts, it probably wouldn’t have generated the same public outcry. While the BBC has clear guidelines for its journalists, they don’t cover its presenters – though we’re sure that’ll change soon, if it hasn’t already.

Consider the person’s role, account following or impact they have online, and decide if the guidelines they should follow need any personalised changes. If so, make sure to communicate this clearly.

3. Can your employees use social media in work hours?

Sharing “behind the scenes” content of your employees’ day can be a great way to engage potential new hires and share some of your secrets to good service with your customers. Airlines built a strong social media presence in this way, with their airline crews taking the reins on their social platforms. But this year, we saw British Airways strip back its social guidelines, meaning employees could no longer, “capture content when [they] are professionally engaged in [their] job”.

While there’s clearly a safety element to their roles, it did leave questions as to whether BA was trying to stop employees from sharing their opinions. We say ask yourself if it’s appropriate for your employees to share what they’re doing at work, if they should only re-share the brand’s corporate content, or if you need to take the BA approach and ban it completely.

4. Have you encouraged employees to be respectful?

You might think it goes without saying, but it’s good to remind employees that what they say online can easily become public, even if they think it’s private. It’s easier than ever to connect the dots online these days – our personal and professional brands are becoming intertwined. Your guidelines should make it clear that there’s no tolerance for statements and slurs about race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity and gender, and could even land them in court. To hit that point home even further, you could share examples of how other employees got into trouble for what they shared online.

5. Have you educated employees around the cybersecurity risks of sharing information online?

Brand reputation aside, you’ve also got to consider the cybersecurity risks that come with sharing content online. Your guidelines should make it clear employees can’t share anything confidential, like client lists, non-public financials, business strategies, legal matters, marketing and sales plans and more. This one may sound a little obvious but given how ingrained social media is in our everyday lives, it’s worth reminding your team of the rules.

Navigating the social media landscape of your company and employees has never been more complicated. Social has become such an extension of our daily lives, that it’s often easy to forget the consequences of firing out a tweet or filming a 15-second Instagram story. While you have a duty to protect your brand, your social media guidelines also offer a chance to protect your employees. So, take this as your sign to dig out your existing guidelines and review them. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, get in touch, we’d be happy to help.