Why You Need a Social Media Policy for Sales
People talk a lot about social media in selling, and one of the first topics that often comes up is a social media policy. What is it, and why might you need one? If you need one, what should you include?
Imagine you have a salesperson who is very politically engaged. He keeps it out of the office, but you know he spends his spare time volunteering for campaigns and attending rallies. He talks about his opinions on Facebook and Twitter, and in both of his profiles he clearly identifies you as his employer. Is that ok?
Another of your salespeople is very invested in building her brand and reputation as a subject matter expert in your space. She is active in LinkedIn groups and other forums talking about your products, answering questions, and representing your company. She responds to comments and reviews, always clearly indicating that she’s an employee. Should she be doing that?
Maybe a member of your team has a meeting with product development and talks about what he saw with his friends on Facebook. Can he do that?
What if a your company is in the news and a member of your team hears from a journalist who found her and reached out via LinkedIn. How should that be handled?
What happens if a salesperson leaves, and all of his prospects’ contact information is in his LinkedIn account. Does that all go with the salesperson?
All of these relatively common situations can be addressed by a social media policy. The purpose of the policy isn’t to restrict employees from using social media, but instead to clarify how they should represent themselves and interact in the social media environment as employees of your company.
Benefits of Social Media in Selling
In the past, many social media policies were very restrictive. They forbid employees from mentioning where they worked or from accessing social media while at work. Those policies ignored the reality of business today.
First of all, your employees are already using social media. You certainly don't want them all spending their days on Facebook, but it’s difficult to expect that they’ll never check their social feeds while they’re taking a break, or never look to social media to connect with prospects and customers.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – your employees are on social media, but so are your prospects and customers! If you don’t have a presence in your prospects’ conversations about your industry in the social space, you’re missing out! You have the opportunity to leverage your employees’ presence in these spaces to engage with prospects where they are.
A strong presence in social media is also a great way to build your company’s brand and attract talent. If people see your team having fun and doing interesting things, they’ll want to be a part of it. This is a great way to help attract employees.
Elements of a Social Media Policy for Selling
So your team is going to use social media, and they’re likely to interact with prospects and customers when doing so. How can you make sure that doesn’t cause any problems for you, and instead actually helps your brand? Here are 5 key elements to consider in your social media policy.
1. Data Ownership
This is a simple one, but it’s important. Who owns the data, and where is it stored? It’s most important for business networks like LinkedIn – if you don’t have a policy for when information is entered into CRM, it will disappear when employees leave.
How can employees talk about you? Can they post negative stories about their bosses, or post about your offerings? How should they look in their profile pictures? This is one of the more important aspects of a social media policy. If your employees’ place of work is listed, they’re representing you. Make sure they are protecting your reputation.
Can employees talk to journalists about working with you? How should they handle requests for comment?
Should employees post a disclaimer on their social media profiles indicating their opinions aren’t yours? This can be a simple way to separate yourself from their posts, though it’s not a complete solution.
5. Prospect Interactions
How should salespeople interact with prospects on social media? Should they be prospecting on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn? Are the rules different depending on the platform? Should employees be building their personal brands or setting themselves up as subject matter experts? How should they identify themselves in forums and groups?
Think about these elements as your craft your policy, and make sure you review it after it’s been in place for a while to ensure it matches the current environment. Social media is a huge part of selling today, but it’s important to set clear guidelines with your social media policy.
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