The cancellation of the TV show Roseanne following Roseanne Barr’s offensive tweet is a perfect reminder of how a social media message can affect the reputation of a brand or of an entire business in just a few hours. And why you should monitor how your employees are behaving online.

Your employees are talking online, but are you listening?

Most of your employees – trainees, managers, C-level executives, members of the board… – are using social media on a regular basis. For personal use to connect with family and friends, and more and more for business purpose to connect with clients, partners and more. And the higher in the hierarchy they stand, the more it could have an impact on your business reputation.

Obviously, when someone has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, a misconduct is quicker and easier to detect than someone followed by only a few hundreds. Sometimes less than that. That’s why social media monitoring is critical for your brand reputation. It could allow you to detect and deal with any situation before it becomes an issue for your business.

But don’t think racist or sexist social media messages are the only danger here. Your employees could be leaking confidential or sensitive information about your business. They could be speaking badly about your competitors or your partners (which they would notice through their own monitoring). Or they could be behaving badly by posting offensive comments targeting other people, or even worse, cyber bullying them. Never take any potential harm lightly and take action as soon as you can by contacting the person to open the discussion about the sensitive post.

Yes, the First Amendment protects free speech. But whether they like it or not, your employees are – to a certain extent – the online ambassadors of your company, and should respect the company’s values whatever their personal beliefs and political affiliation are.

Social media education and training can help

But don’t get scared. And above all, don’t freak your employees out. You are NOT big brother! You definitely want to encourage them to be active on social media and to share with their network their day-to-day life without being worried of losing their job. They need your trust, your guidance, and to be aware of the basic business rules to follow to avoid the possible consequences of crossing a line.

For that, everything should be clearly documented and shared with all employees on a regular basis and with new recruits during their onboarding. A social media policy that complies with federal and state regulations is mandatory. But since any policy is pretty boring to read, additional social media guidelines are more than recommended. These documents are essential to make your employees understand what they can and can’t do on social media from a business standpoint.

Even better, training your employees on how to use social media for business would be a real game changer for your entire organization. Sharing a webinar about good practices, educating them on the do’s and don’ts of social media, and being able to answer any concern they may have via your internal network would improve your employees’ online engagement and benefit your overall brand reputation.

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