Companies are increasingly recognising the benefits of using social media to increase brand recognition and consumer loyalty, thereby boosting sales and profitability.  Many consumers follow brands online for news of product launches and special offers.  One way of maximising a brand’s social media presence is to involve employees.  In the Cosmetics industry, Estée Lauder implemented a social media strategy for its MAC Cosmetics brand that uses employees to add a human touch.   According to WaveMetrix, around 40 MAC employees have used their own handles to tweet about make-up and fashion tips and industry events, gathering over 158,000 followers – more than MAC’s official handle.

The results of the MAC social media campaign suggest that consumers may prefer to follow individuals rather than brands to get the latest content and news.  However, companies wishing to launch employee-fronted social media campaigns should only do so after setting parameters for engagement, so that employees are aware of what they can and can’t do online.  Failure to set clear rules can result in inappropriate postings, reputational damage and even loss of confidential information.

Before encouraging employees to blog and tweet, put in place a social media policy that covers:

  • Identity – Should employees post in their personal capacity or as brand spokespersons? If the former, should employees post under a disclaimer, stating that opinions expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the company?
  • Logos – Should employees be authorised to use company logos in blog postings?
  • Content – Ensure social media postings are in line with the brand’s values and code of business conduct.  Posts should be respectful and employees should not be drawn into online disagreements. Employees should be mindful that they are representing the brand at all times – even if posting in a personal capacity.
  • Confidentiality – Specify the types of information that must not be posted, including sales strategies or data, product launch information, unannounced technology and any other confidential information.
  • Privacy – Employees should take steps to protect their own personal information and that of others when posting on social media sites.
  • Acknowledgment – Employees should acknowledge they have read and understood the company’s social media guidelines before blogging or tweeting about the brand.  Without this step, it will be more difficult for a company to take disciplinary action for a breach of the company’s social media rules.