How to Reduce Brand Disasters, While Building Brand Ambassadors: Social Media Compliance Training


Seventy-seven percent of companies have acquired customers through Facebook, 43% have gained customers through LinkedIn, and 34% have generated leads through Twitter. Most companies have been leveraging social media as a marketing tool for quite some time now and (based on the numbers above) are reaping the benefits of the additional engagement channels it provides. But what about the risks? Do you have the ideal or any social media compliance training in place?

Seventy-one percent of social media users are more likely to purchase from a brand they follow online, but that’s pending that the brand represents itself in an appropriate manner. Share on Twitter!

With possibly multiple people managing your social media messaging, how do you ensure each post is appropriate and in sync with brand standards? Marketing is trying to get your customers attention and you are trying to ensure they aren’t doing anything that will get the company in trouble.

Now of course, IT, marketing, customer service or any other facet of your company that utilizes social media probably isn’t trying to get your company in trouble (at least I hope they aren’t), but if you don’t equip them with the tools to know exactly what they should and should not be saying, they could easily find themselves in an uncomfortable situation.

Probably one of the most memorable social media faux pas is that of Domino’s Pizza. It happened over five years ago, but I still remember it and all the hubbub it created. Why? Probably because the video confirmed all of my worst fears. Food workers do spit in your food! The video created by two Domino’s employees walked horrified watchers through our worst food nightmares, as pizzas and sandwiches were “compromised.” After the video was posted, it went viral – after all, this was captivating content! But, that’s when things started to really get ugly. The two employees, although they confessed the videos were made in jest, lost their jobs and Domino’s Pizza was forced to quickly go on the defense, apologizing to customers and explaining that these were, in fact, rogue employees and did not represent the company or its practices as a whole.

Domino’s Pizza’s reputation may not have been irreparably damaged (I know I still eat their pizza!), but is that really a risk worth taking?

Consequences that Can Come with Social Media Mistakes

Meet Ashley. Ashley was high school teacher who lost her job in 2009 for posting “inappropriate” (drinking) pictures and status updates with expletives on Facebook.

Or what about “Cisco Fatty“? Have you heard of this one? Millennial Connor Riley was offered a job at Cisco and immediately tweeted about the opportunity – stating that inevitably her “fatty paycheck” would also mean she would be “hating the work.” Cisco recanted their job offer.

More recently we have Helio Castronoves, an IndyCar driver who has been suspended for posting a tweet featuring a “thumbs down” icon in the middle of the IndyCar logo. Allegedly the tweet was inadvertently posted by Castronoves’ sister on her brother’s Twitter account.

All of the unfortunate consequences that accompanied the situations above could have been easily avoided had social media code of ethics training been offered. And – although these situations focus more on consequences experienced by the “rogue” employee – the companies undoubtedly found themselves facing some kind of loss. Domino’s Pizza had to act quickly to mitigate any brand damage, Ashley’s high school potentially lost a good teacher, etc.

Leveraging social media to engage customers and grow your business is a very powerful tool, and as we all know with great rewards come great risks. Companies today need to realize that in order for their employees to accurately and appropriately represent their brand, they need to provide them with guidelines to follow. Jeanne Meister, Forbes contributor, offers five tips for implementing successful social media compliance training.

5 Tips for Effective Social Media Compliance Training

1. Incorporate Social Media Compliance Training into New Hire Training

Require that social media compliance training is part of the on-boarding process.

2. Make it Fun – Create a Branded Social Media Compliance Training Program

i.e. Sprint’s social media training program brand is the “Sprint Ninja” – Sprint employees who complete their Sprint Social Media Ninjas program receive a Ninja certificate of completion.

3. Provide a Framework for Social Messages

You only have 140 characters in a tweet, how could you possibly screw that up? I can think of four characters off the top of my head. While it may seem like you are micromanaging your employees, I assure you that it is better to be safe than sorry. Give your employees a framework to work with so they feel more comfortable managing your social media channels.

4. Make Social Media More Fun

Millennials are used to engaging via social media, but they grew up using it to connect with friends, not to try and increase the number of leads in a pipeline. So make posting on behalf of your company more fun. Unisys has implemented a “Recognition and Rewards” program. Employees receive badges for contributing their social media knowledge to other employees. They get to show off their badges on your company’s social sites and you gain social media compliance ambassadors. (Note: This is also a great way to measure employee engagement and tie compliance in with employee compensation – i.e. the employees with more badges receive more company recognition, monetary or otherwise).

5. Encourage Conversations and Listen to Feedback!

Your executive team isn’t on the front line responding to customer or prospect questions that come in via social media, so make sure your managers and social media contributors have an open line of communication (you can reiterate this in your code of ethics training). It’s important your employees know they have someone to go to with questions when they are unsure of how to respond to a social media situation. You don’t want to leave your employees guessing how to respond and finding themselves in a violation of your social media policy as a result.

Your executives know that social media is a powerful marketing tool for generating new business (and if they didn’t they should know now), so make a case for social media compliance training and ensure you continue to reap the rewards and mitigate the risks that come with an online social presence.



Topics:  Brand, Compliance, Social Media, Training

Published In: General Business Updates, Communications & Media Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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