Tips to Empowering Retail Employees on Social Media
In a time when 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals, retailers should take note. From small mom-and-pop shops to major national chains, retailers can leverage social media used by their employees to attract shoppers, manage customer service issues, create brand awareness and, ultimately, increase revenue. However, blindly arming your employees with smartphones, tablets and laptops without providing guidelines on social media use can lead to terminations, theft, lawsuits and public relations nightmares.
With social media, the lines between public and private, personal and professional can often feel blurred. Creating clear guidelines will resolve much of this confusion for both employers and employees. Many of the same rules which protect employees in the workplace also apply online. That's why, no matter the size of your organization, establishing a written social media policy is the best way to protect both the employer and employee.
Here are some important elements to include in your social media policy:
- Outline your company's goals with respect to the policy.
- Tie the policy into your company's mission.
- Establish specific, easy-to-understand guidelines.
- Cite specific examples of prohibited conduct to avoid confusion as to what constitutes unacceptable behavior. For instance, state how the policy is meant to prevent disclosure of proprietary or confidential information or discrimination and harassment.
- Nothing is off the record! An employee is always a representative of the company they work for, and therefore shouldn't be sharing anything they wouldn't want an employer or client to see.
- Be mindful of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and other laws that protects employees’ rights to engage in "concerted activities," including the right to discuss (i.e., post, tweet) the terms and conditions of their employment.
- Clarify when management or corporate approval is needed.
- Be respectful and courteous to customers, noncustomers, shareholders, co-workers, vendors and competitors.
- Avoid conflicts with competitors such as posting about sales elsewhere.
- Get permission from co-workers and customers before posting or using their photos.
- Respect all brand, trademarked and copyrighted information.
Many best-in-class companies take advantage of the onboarding process to familiarize new employees with their social media policy in order to encourage them to engage with the brand right off the bat, the right way. While your social media policy should be comprehensive enough to protect your company from undue risk, it still should make it easy as possible for your employees to be free to responsibly share positive company news, upcoming sales and offers, promotions, contests, special events, etc.