Why You Need a Social Media Policy and What It Should Include
Aside being able to find everything you could ever think of to buy or learn about, the other unique characteristic of the Internet is that it NEVER FORGETS. Everything that’s ever been posted online about you and your dealership — everything you’ve said, your employees have said, your customers have said, etc. — permanently lives in cyberspace and may be accessible with a few clicks of a mouse.
Even the most well-intentioned employee could hurt your reputation with a poorly worded interaction with a customer. You can work your way out of that one. On the other hand, what about the disgruntled employee who posts defamatory, proprietary or pornographic material about your dealership, employees, customers or even competitors? Not only could it cost you expensive litigation, it could permanently damage your reputation.
If you’re involved in any type of social media, or even if you’re just thinking about it at this point, you need to implement a social media policy. Essentially, a social media policy provides guidelines and standards for online conduct, including who can represent your dealership in the online space. You and your social media manager should review the policy with all of your employees and have them sign it.
Some tips on what your social media policy should include:
- A description of what social media is (e.g., LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Digg).
- A description of dealership-sanctioned social media activity.
- Specific employees who can participate in social media as a dealership representative.
- Who is managing and enforcing social media policy (e.g., general manager and social media manager).
- Acceptable online behavior – Reflect positively on the dealership, co-workers, departments and dealership as a whole, and not conflict with your operation’s values, mission or culture.
- Confidentiality compliance.
- Who will monitor and respond on social media sites.
- Conduct on personal social media sites – The days of separating private and public online are pretty much gone.
- Consequences if the policy is violated.
Social media policies are relatively simple and straightforward, but it’s best to consult your attorney on all issues of policy in which employees are compelled to acknowledge and sign. To learn more about what a social media policy should look like, NADA has developed ”Dealership Social Media Use Policy,” a sample guideline that outlines acceptable and non-acceptable activities for dealership staff. Click here to view the policy.
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