8 Advantages Of Using Social Media

Today, the article will be discussing about social media, and how it has helped many sites get bigger everyday. Bigger sites are continuing to use the power of Social “awareness” on these Social Sites.

I have been able to attract the majority of traffic so far from social media, and it has been a great starting point to do so. Every new blog will need to first attract and mobilize the advantages of social media sites.

One of the advantages being the use of its traffic already on the sites. The ability to add connections on each site. And finally having to use it anytime you are in need of any two of the previous points.

With one mention of a social site, everyone knows the growth of it everyday. Pinterest. It is now officially the “third” largest social media site, surpassing even LinkedIn. It has been named, “50 Best Websites of 2011” according to Time.com and its list.

Every social site’s trend right now has to be the visualization of the interface. The trend has been growing with Pinterest’s example as the prime interface. It has grown a trend to put that style into practice on Internet Dreams.

Social media in general has been a huge focal point of success on the internet since the “human” seems to find connection to each other a must-need aspect of life.

This article will list the top 8 advantages social sites offer. You, too, take advantage of the social site’s offers. Find out below, and get the “Advantages” identified! Please share!

1. Get Instant Traffic

With Facebook having over 845 million monthly active users according to jeffbullas.com and Pinterest with 10 million, it shows to prove that social media is one of the most accessed feature of the internet.

Why not take advantage of the traffic some of the social media sites receive? It would be beneficial to your site to get that traffic and get your brand more “aware”.

Not all of that traffic is what you are going to need. Only a small portion of the numbers. The small portion that is high-targeted and what you are really looking to attract to your site.

There are some stats that is worth taking note on the internet. Of all of them, it is pretty obvious Facebook is the “King” and worth investing time into. It could be different for you, since you could be more engaging on Twitter.

It is all about what time you invest in a social site and based on that is the yielding return.

2. Talk And Connect With Your Peers

Your peers could be site owners or bloggers that have their content and they’re distributing it to the social masses. Social media has made it a possibility and a “must” to form relationships with your peers.

Connect and talk with them. That is one of the most important tasks for a beginner. Just saying, “Hi, how are you” is a killer opening to a connection. Also offer to let them know if you could share any content they may have.

Having the right top wordpress plugins at your disposal is one step closer to taking full advantage of social media.

Ask them personally to make sure they know you shared their content as they are more apt to respond with the same action.

3. Capture A Following!

Getting traffic from social media is one thing but to get them to like or follow you is another. Since social media traffic is known for traffic that comes and goes, it creates huge spikes then dwindles the next day.

Half the time you are looking to get traffic from a social visitor, try the other to get them to follow you. Asking is a start and providing unique content is also a start in getting them to sign up.

4. Get More Help To Share Your Content

Since social media is about connections and sharing what best interests them, posting your article there might interest them as well. They will look at it and what they see, might help you get started with sharing.

One way to get more shares form a piece of content is to involve your peers in it in some way and asking them to share it. The other is to contact your “legit” readers or followers you are in good connection with and ask them the same way as well.

5. It Is Free To Use

There is no cost involved and use them as much as you can. Set up a profile that looks worked on and has all of your current “information”. Start following and making friends with as many as you can, and slowly refine your search.

It is free to share and use the features of the social site, such as meetings or groups. Be aware of the possibility of connecting with other “similar” people and sharing what you have to offer. Keep this strategy at a consistent basis. You’ll see the rewards.

6. A Huge Database Of Ideas

On the social sites, in some areas of it, there are many looking for answers to their problems. People are looking for solutions and one of the places they are looking is in social media where they might be following one of their teachers such as a blogger or mentor.

Problems = Ideas. You can also get ideas by looking at what is the trend out there and capturing some of that vibe. Look at other content and analyze for yourself what is getting hits on it. It isn’t hard to figure that out. Just look at the social signs such as comments or likes, retweets, etc…

Spying on your competition basically.

7. Social Media = Social Networking

Absolutely the fundamental aspect of receiving success on Social Media. That could be possible as its other name. If you are not networking with others on these sites, and just pumping just your own content and hoping it gets recognized.

Nope. It isn’t.

The only way it would be is if your followers or close ones share and help you promote further. That is something I had to learn and didn’t think of it that way. So, contact your close connections and help each other out with sharing. That way, you will be able to reach further down the channels of social media.

8. Increase Your Brand “Name”

Even “big” name companies that have existed prior to social media madness, have jumped on this medium to grow their business even more. According to eMarketer.com, 88% percent of marketers agree that social media has helped grow their brand “awareness”.

Even if you haven’t had your website exist before social media, now is the time to grow that name of your site into the brand that can be known by a wider mas, when grown. A smart strategy is to take a look at the big dogs and catch “some” of those tricks they use, cause they have more experience in the field.

Recap Of The 8 Social Media Advantages

There you have it. The 8 huge advantages listed here you can’t miss of social media engagement. It could also be the top ten advantages of using social media for your site.

No more excuses not to use social media like it is, and if you are using it, I am sure you are not using the full advantages of it. I was doing the same till I rediscovered, myself, on what the true meaning of social media is.

Work on each of these eight points, one at a time. These are meant to be working points and stepping-stones to the next level of your social media engagement.

Out of all these points, the true key to success on any social site is engagement and time. Time you spend on getting better on that specific social media site.

Your Business Can Navigate The Social Media Minefield

Social Media! It’s all around us. Everywhere you look it’s: ‘Like Us On Facebook’ here and ‘Tweet Us’ there. We are surrounded by social media networks, and new ones are springing up all the time. Even though some businesses have seen the value of social media, many more have failed to grasp the effect social media is having on the way businesses need to market themselves.

Effective marketing relies on being able to target and reach the greatest possible number of potential customers. If traditional marketing methods become ineffective or outdated, what should a business do?

In the past, most people would read a newspaper daily. So when a business took out an advert, it was seen by most people. Today, many people catch up with current events either through news apps or from the latest hot topics circulating around in social media conversations, many of which don’t use adverts. Where does this leave the small business?

If you can’t get your marketing materials seen by your target audience, then not only will you be wasting your money, but you will see a big fall in your revenue, and no business can sustain that for long. Your only option is to go where the people are – and that is on Social media.

The time people spend on social media networks is growing, almost on a daily basis. They interact with people globally, make friends there, ask others for advice there, even shop there. Because of the options given to people within the social network communities, people are much more savvy about the products and services they want to buy. How do you get YOUR business voice heard among the literally millions of other voices that are talking daily on social media?

There is no such thing as a ‘captive audience’ within these social networks. Businesses need to relearn how to reach out and engage with their potential customers but they need to approach it in the right way. People need a good reason to investigate a business page on social media and an even better one to come back for more!

You don’t need to make mistakes to learn… you can benefit from looking at the mistakes people have made in the past so you don’t repeat them. Here are some lessons others before you have learned the hard way.

THE OSTRICH

There are 2 main reasons for ignoring social media – Businesses either think it to be a fad that only kids use to chat on and pass funny photos around, or they don’t take it seriously as an option, thinking that there are better ways to spend their marketing time than talking to teenagers.

The facts show social media IS here to stay:

August 2013, ExportedRamblings.com reported Facebook had clocked up 1.15 BILLION active users
21st March 2013, on its 7th Birthday, Twitter announced that it had over 200 million active users creating over 400 million tweets daily.
In July 2013, Semiocast revealed Pinterest had over 70 million users
What’s more, the user figures for each of these, and other, social media networks show no sign of waning. Social media networks continue to grow month on month. Every business should ask itself the serious question ‘Can my business afford NOT to be using social media?’ (The answer, by the way, should be NO!)

You have to be in it to win it.

JUMP ON IN… THE WATER’S FINE

So that’s it… You’ve decided to take the plunge into the pool of social media. So you’re going to tell people about your vacation and then WHAM! Hit them with your sales pitch! Smooth! Not really. That would be like jumping into a swimming pool when you can’t swim – you would just sink without a trace.

Each social media network is different. They have their own individual user profile, their own way for users to interact with each other, their own communities, their own rules and social etiquette, and their own way of getting users to engage with one another. Unless you investigate each network, you can’t be sure which ones are going to be the best fit for your company. As we said before, you need to market directly to potential customers in order to promote more sales, so you need to be sure your customers are actually there BEFORE you start.

IS IT THE ONE FOR ME?

People will tell you that you should be on this social network or that social network. Really? You need a presence on EVERY network going? Considering the growing number of social networks out there, you would need days and days worth of time to keep each one of your accounts active, engaging and ticking over. So unless you have an army of employees to do it for you, you would have to choose between running your business or running your social media empire.

We all know that time is money. So rather than trying to be a Jack-of-all-Trades, start off with a manageable number of social networks that have a broader user profile. The popular networks of Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are a good place to begin. There is much advice available to businesses on how to use these networks to good effect. We can also help you work out a good, effective marketing strategy to promote your business on these platforms.

Once you are comfortable with the weekly routine of keeping these running, you can then take the time to look at other social networks to see if there are any other networks that offer your business the chance to make contact with other sections of your potential customer base.

AIMLESS PARTICIPATION

Social media is a vast digital landscape that is easy to get lost in if you don’t have a map or purpose for being there. You need to have a good individual marketing strategy for whatever platform you are on, as well as knowing the best way of engaging users in that network. That way, you will always be focused on what you want to achieve, as well as how you are going to achieve it.

IT’S NOT JUST BUSINESS…

Imagine you met someone that you really clicked with as a friend. You spend 2 weeks together, speaking all the time and you build up a really good rapport. Then, without any warning, they disappear. One month passes without a word, then another and another. 6 months later, they get back in touch as if nothing has happened and try to pick up where they left off. How would you feel? What if they tried to sell you something in that first conversation with you? How would you feel then? Used? Misled? Could you really see them as a friend or would you see someone who was just pretending to be friendly to get money out of you?

This is how social media differs from regular marketing. Before you can start to benefit from the connections you are making to people on each network, you need to build up a trust and rapport with them. This means being a regular part of the network community, something that can’t be done by dipping in and out every 3-4 months. The connections your business makes on these social networks need tending just like any other offline customer relationship.

The clue’s in the name – SOCIAL media. These networks aren’t somewhere people come to shop. There are shopping malls and digital department stores offline for that. People come to social media to engage with and socialise with other like-minded people. Being social, you find fun things to look at, interesting people to chat with, amusing anecdotes and videos, and a peek into the lives of others around the world. So if you are all stiff and business-like, you are going to stick out like a sore thumb. And if you are dull and stiff and business-like, and just in it for the sales, then people will avoid you like the plague.

As a business, you need to strike a happy medium between staying professional and letting your potential clients see the human side of your business. So don’t be afraid to share some of your personal side with other users. Letting your personality out gives others something about your business they can relate to and want to do business with.

By posting daily, commenting and contributing to the social fabric of the social media networks your business is a part of, it keeps you and your business visible to others and builds up their trust in you as someone more than just another company trying to sell them something.

KEEPING IT REAL… just not too real

There are horror stories galore about companies who have either pretended to be a customer to leave themselves a glowing testimonial or have paid people to put their name to a glowing review the company has actually written itself. These types of deceptive actions shatter the confidence or trust customers may have in any business caught doing it.

So the best advice for any small business owner is to keep all the information in your posts as genuine and reliable as possible. Talk about your day (but try to make it interesting), or maybe a new product launch but intersperse it with some lighter, more personal details – a vacation maybe, or something that happened while driving.

There is a fine line between personal and too much information, especially as what you post reflects on your business. Try to stay away from details of your life that reveal too much about your life, such as a messy relationship breakup, but also from details of your business relationships that may show you in a negative light. If people see you representing your customers in a bad light, for example if you perceived them to be a bad or rude customer, they may assume the issue lies with your attitude, which ultimately is damaging to your reputation.

So be honest when you post, just not too honest.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING – IT COSTS!

Social media networks cost nothing to join, so businesses think that they are just a free outlet to rake sales in from without having to spend a penny doing it. Well let me ask you… How are they going to find your business in amongst all the other thousand of businesses?

For any marketing campaign to be successful, there needs to be a well thought out, focused strategy targeting who it is aimed at, where those prospective customers are located and how to build up communication through social media that will result in them becoming one of your customers. You also need to know how much time and effort you need to set aside not only to implement the campaign but also to oversee it and analyse the results, and if you can use any other resources to increase the effectiveness of your posts on each of the social media networks you are using.

So while the initial cost of social media is free, there is a time and energy cost to the individuals who need to spend time cultivating and developing online relationships inside each network.

WE CAN HELP

We know just how busy the life of a small business owner is. It can take a lot of time and effort just to keep the business running from week to week, and you just may not have enough time to sit down and plan out which of the social media networks will benefit your business the most and then work out how to use each one.

Better Understand and Grow Your Business With Social Media

I have been on Facebook since 2006, Twitter since 2008 and used both platforms as a way to grow my supply company that I used to own. Yes, I even had a very active MySpace account. In the last 3 years, I have also been active at Google + and keep my LinkedIn profile updated quarterly. I also am active on YouTube. So let’s better understand and grow your business with Social Media.

So first off what is the point? Why spend time and effort on this? I think as an industry we are definitely slow to adapt many of the tools available to us with social outlets. If you look at some of the major players in our industry very little time and effort is put into social media. Social media does take lots of time and it is hard to really see the results quickly. Also, for many in our industry, we are more of an analog industry and are just now getting to the digital age. Pad Printers are a prime example. Wonderful creative and talented people that stamp ink. They can make just about anything work, but ask a hardcore pad printer their thoughts on the digital sublimation systems is often “that horrible trouble creating machines can take a flying leap… ” But in the right environment with the right market, sublimation can be a savior for a pad printers business. So back to Social media…

So why the do we need to be on social media? 37 million people log onto to Facebook daily, and in the last 10 minutes, 40,250 Tweets have been posted. How about Google +? Who do most all of us go to when we want to search for something on the internet? There are 5,922,000,000 (Yes that is 5.9 Billion) searches on Google per DAY. Google holds a staggering 67.6 percent of the U.S. search engine market share, according to the latest search engine market share figures for April 2014, released by comScore. Being on G+ and talking about search terms that are important to your business as well as sharing links to your website on G+ correctly will help your search ranking. By improving your search ranking you will have a better likelihood that someone goes to your website who is interested in the products and services you offer. So the numbers are right. There is an audience and chances are most of your customers are somewhere on social media waiting for you to interact with them.

The other reason for many of us is the price. The price cannot be beat… FREE! Being social is absolutely free and just takes time and effort. There are things you can spend money related to social media that will make things a little easier, but honestly people doing it right and spending the time needed don’t have to pay a thing to promote their business and find new customers. What are your alternatives to reaching your customers? You could exhibit at a trade show or home show or another event. Plan on spending $5,000 to $10,000 to really do that right, though. You could do internet advertising with banners or Google AdWords. Plan on spending $1,000 to $2,000 a month to get the kind of reach you can get with social media. You can put ads out on the radio, TV or even the local newspaper, but again they all cost money, a commodity that most small businesses don’t have in abundance yet. Now using social media to improve the ROI (return on investment) for the above things is something you should be looking at doing. Let’s say you spend the $5,000 to display at a local home show, but by luck of the draw end up in a corner behind the local loud mouth realtor and no one comes to see you. How about using social media to get people past the realtor with images of your booth, jokes about the loud mouth realtor or otherwise. Be yourself and help people come find you.

Another plus is it is not one sided like many other marketing methods, you don’t have to be the only one growing your business with it. Real quality interaction is driven by your customers and potential customers. Your job is to foster interaction between your company and products. This is not the elevator pitch where you have 30 seconds to sell your goods and services, this is the time to talk about things that interest your customer and build a relationship that will turn them into lasting customers. Also, happy customer make the BEST salespeople so give them an outlet to advocate for your brand by having an active social media plan.

So what else can be done? With social media, you can also use it as a tool for Customer Service. Yes, I am guilty of using my personal Twitter to vent my frustrations with poor service received by a company. I also try to be aware of shouting out good customer service by companies via social media. Many companies have figured it out and actually do a fantastic job of helping, supporting and taking care of their customers with social media. Then there are the examples of those who have made massive blunders. A company that many of us in our industry might have heard of made the Inc. Magazines top 10 social media fails in 2014 for their posting of a picture of the Challenger space shuttle exploding as a way of celebrating the 4th of July on their Tumblr page. They took a beating for it and the excuse was the social media manager was born after the Challenger disaster and didn’t know it was it was. On the flip side of this coin you have lots of companies in our industry and beyond that get it and do a great job of interacting with their customers and making social media an integral part of their customer service plan. For example, I’m a loyal flyer on Southwest because of the help I received via their Twitter team when I was having some challenges traveling with my Autistic son. They sprang into action and made our journey a pleasant one and now I hardly fly anyone else. You can do things like monitor for comments about your company or product and then just make sure you are doing the right thing on social media. You have to put yourself in their shoes and wear your “empathy” hat when interacting with folks on social media. Check your ego at the door!

Social media can also be used as a tool for research and product development. You can find all sorts of information about your competitors, your customers and potential customers on social media. The trick here is to just be part of the conversation. You have to be a human, not just a Twitter Handle or a Facebook Page. You have to give something to get something. This means solving problems, giving tips and tricks, opening the curtain to who you are as a person and company. Once you do this then you can get people to answer questions like “Do you like the black edge plaque with this design or the cherry edge plaque with a different design?” You can also find out if your competitor XYZ Company takes too long to deliver a product, or has other weaknesses that you might be able to take advantage of by being a part of the “group” on social media.

So as you can see to me being a part of social media can be a huge lift for your business and provides you with all sorts of tools to not only promote your business but to also understand and better service your customers. It is free to be a part of it just takes time. But if you think about what your average day looks like, how often are you just reading the latest click bait article that your friend posted on Facebook or looking at the latest Disney quote on Twitter or other time wasting activity. Why not take those 15 minutes and devote it to being active on social media in a way that talks about your business. How about encouraging your employees to be active on social media as it relates to your business. All it takes is for the word to start spreading and you will see results. They won’t be huge or immediate, but if the effort is put in and you are daily being a part of the conversation where your customers are at on social media, you will wake up in 6 months to a year and notice that it is working.

7 Tips To Grow Sales Using Social Media

Social media has become a selling force for the marketing world and marketers are taking a great advantage of it. Recent survey shows that about 75% of sales and purchase decisions are done through social media evaluations in one way or the other. Even the way we do business and maintain customer relationship has changed drastically within the last few years all because of social media. The traditional way of selling both offline and online has changed from email marketing, networking, phone calls and face to face discussions to almost complete social media selling. That been said doesn’t mean our traditional ways of selling are no longer good or in use but, we rather make better use of them combining social media selling information and experiments to grow sales using social media.

Growing sales using social media

Social media selling is simple but a tactical way of reaching your audience based on their demographics and at the right time through the right source depending on the most popular social media channel your local or global audience are using at a particular time. Properly using your networks on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and other social networks, you will be able to easily identify potential prospects, then gain intelligence on your audience needs and challenges, and then leverage this knowledge. This valuable information will make a way for you to engage them in conversation that will give you the opportunity to email, call or even meet them in person and present your offers to them. It is no news that the potentials social media have help marketers uncover new selling opportunities and also develop the existing business relationships that leads them to grow sales using social media.

To succeed on social media, you have to properly plan, set out a clear strategy, devote some time and work hard work before you can even think of succeeding on social media selling. Below are some of the best tips every selling rep should follow in other to be successful on social media.

1. Defined your Brand or Products/Services

Before you even start anything on social media, you as a person or group have to first define your brand, products and services. This means that, how do you want to be seen as a brand? Is it that you are have the best quality products with the lowest cost or do you offer the fastest and efficient services within your niche. Do you want your audience to see you as the best team or group of experts in a particular field? it all have to be first defined. By doing this, you will determine how you want to be perceived in the eyes of your audience and also know the right source of social network you will need to use.

2. Create and complete your social media profiles

After defining your brand and having a full knowledge of how you want to be perceived on the media among your audience and potential clients, the next thing you need to is to create attracted accounts on all the social media platforms within your reach. Whether is Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and also create and update your LinkedIn profile. Connect your site with all the above mentioned social sites and not LinkedIn company page. Make sure you don’t have previous information on those pages that will hurt your brand and create controversy among your visitors and potential customers. These social media pages represent your brand, products and services to great extent and they must be kept clean and filled with information appealing to customers only.

3. Identify your targeted audience and go after them

There are so many ways of searching for your targeted audience on social network these days. You know them easily by what they like, their subscriptions, what they share and view on daily bases. Another way to search for your audience is through LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great tool for this because they allow you to search for people according to their demographics e.g. by their titles, regions, specific departments, companies, industries, and more. Same thing can be done with Twitter and now with Facebook posting updated to target specific audience to increase engagement. You could also find your potential customers through your competitors’ fan pages and make attempts to steel them in ways I won’t discuss here. In case you need more information about this, email or contact the admin of this post.

4. Build your social Network with your targeted audience

After getting to know who are your targeted audience on those social networks, Start building your network with the people you know by inviting them to like and share your pages. There are a lot of chances that those people might know who you want to sell to and make sure you add all the people from your past and present job places, your family and friends and encourage them to share your information among their friends. This for sure will lead to your pages attracting new members and so the growth will continue. Make a good use of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ to start this process.

5. Identify platforms your audience are using

Knowing the social network platforms your targeted audience are on regularly will help you a lot in targeting them and bringing them to your pages on same social networks channels. You have to understand where your targeted audience spend most of their time, discuss their challenges and share information about topics interesting to them. Once you identify those platforms, join the groups, and subscribe to those platforms. There are chances you would meet a lot of your targeted audience there and convert them to becoming your fans and subscribers. You would do better is you spend more time on those social platforms where your audience spend most of their time. These will lead to more subscribers and potential customers you would keep forever.

6. Grow sales using social media

Learn and monitor your Potential clients on those social media platforms

Some tools like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Google Alerts are just great peace of software that can help you monitor in real time what your potential customers are talking about online which will allow you to quickly respond to them in a timely manner. Your target audience are continuously sharing information on social network sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and more which send messages to what their needs and wants are. Sometimes even their profile update might review what their needs are at a time. Knowing all these will give you great insight on what to create and how to target them based on their behavior on social media.

7. Offer Target and valuable content that will impress and engage your audience

Now that you have defined your brand, create and enhanced your social media profiles, identified your target audience and where they spend most of their time on the social media platforms, started building your social network, and began learning more about your target audience, the next challenge will be to start offering great information about your products, services and brand. This will help you to build trust and establish yourself as an expert within a particular field. these days you need to share targeted valuable insights with your prospective customers in the form of quality content using the different social media platforms they use and also make sure these contents are sent to them at the right times and through the right source.

Why Your Business’s Social Media Policy May Be A Dud

The importance of utilizing social media to help any business grow cannot be understated. But, there can be serious legal consequences for businesses when their employees or affiliates and marketers use any of the popular social media forums. This can hold true both when employees are acting on behalf of your business and when they use social media for their personal use. Smart business owners identify the problems ahead of time and then devise a strategy to prevent unnecessary liability and address risks when they become known. Of course, that strategy should start with an appropriate social media policy. But, many businesses draft social media policies which do not address all the potential concerns it should, or even draft policies in a manner which renders them illegal!

So, how can you ensure your business’s social media policy isn’t a dud? First, you must understand what could go wrong in social media.

What Could Go Wrong For My Business In Social Media?

Here is a broad list of legal concerns your business may face relating to social media:

-Employees who reveal confidential or proprietary information in a blog entry that can be viewed by millions of readers;
-Employees who post discriminatory or negative comments on social media regarding your business or other employees;
-Employees who post objectionable content on their Facebook pages that raises into question their character, which in turn reflects on your business; or
-Employees, affiliates and other sponsored endorsers can even subject their employers to liability by promoting the company’s services or products without disclosing the employment relationship. This is otherwise known as a sponsored endorsement in legal parlance. The FTC has made it clear that any “material connections” between the endorser and the sponsor must be disclosed in connection with a product or service endorsement, which is defined as any type of positive review. Sponsored endorsers can also potentially create liability for your business through any deceptive claims made about any products or services offered by your business.
Why A Social Media Policy Can Protect Your Business

If you have employees or use any type of third-party marketers or affiliates, you should adopt a written social media policy. Though not an absolute shield from liability, businesses must adopt social media use policies protecting the employer consistent with the company’s organizational culture. Not only can these policies serve as a strong deterrent to employees, they can be uses as the basis of terminating employees and affiliates or other third-parties.

But, What Should Your Company Social Media Policy Really Say (Or Not Say)?

Of course, your company’s social media policy should make clear to employees what the employer expects with regard to social media use, both on and off the job. These expectations may vary between companies, but employers should generally be concerned with rules against conduct that may result in unlawful sexual harassment or other liability, rules prohibiting disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, and company policies governing the use of corporate logos and other branding concerns when engaged in social media use. I’ll go into more specific details about what your policy should say below.

But, the problem every employer must understand with employee social media use is that the individual’s actions may be legally protected. Some states, for example, have laws protecting employees’ off-duty activities and political activities or affiliations. At the Federal level, the National Labor Relations Act protects employees who engage in “concerted activity,” which often includes the right to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with co-workers and outsiders. If your social media policy has not been updated over the past two years, the policy is likely to be out of compliance with the guidance provided by the National Labor Relations Board recently. In addition, federal and state whistle-blower laws protect employees who complain about (among other things) potential securities fraud violations, in certain situations.

Practical Guidelines

Some practical and basic guidelines you should include in any social media policy are listed below. I use the term “employees” to refer to employees, affiliates and all other sponsored endorsers.

-Employment Rules and Company Code of Conduct

Require that employees always follow the terms of their employment agreement, employee handbook or other company code of conduct at all times when using social media (obviously this just applies to employees). The social media policy should restrict employees from violating the terms of any company policy via social media use for work or personal purposes.

-Broad Use Statement

You should state that the policy applies to all forms of social media, including multi-media (videos, posts or audio recordings), social networking sites, blogs, podcasts, sharing sites and wikis and covers both professional and personal use.

-Confidentiality

Employees should not disclose any information that is confidential or proprietary to the company or to any third-party. What if you have a new product or software application in development that you want to keep confidential? What about financial and other non-public information? There are a million reasons to post rules prohibiting disclosure of confidential or proprietary information on social media sites. The best practice is to define what comprises “confidential” and proprietary information and other trade secrets similar to a non-disclosure agreement and restrict disclosure. This restriction should include personal use and use on company owned sites. But be specific. Rather thanbanning any and all disclosure of confidential information, be specific about exactly what cannot be disclosed (such as trade secrets, customer information, business strategies, etc.).

-Endorsements & Affiliation

If an employee comments on any aspect of the company’s business they must clearly identify themselves as an employee and include a disclaimer. Employees should neither claim nor imply that they are speaking on the company’s behalf unless they are expressly authorized to do so. For example, you should require each employee to use the language “any views expressed are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of ABC Corp.”

-Advertising Liability

All sponsored endorsers must not make any misleading or deceptive ads or claims about your products. All content must be accurate and truthful. Since you are just as responsible as any sponsored endorser would be, you need to have a clear policy on what deceptive advertising is and restrict such claims. In fact, any employee, affiliate, etc. you allow to post or promote on behalf of your business really should truly understand what is deceptive under FTC and state consumer protection laws. Your social media policy should restrict your company’s bloggers or product reviewers, affiliates and marketers against making such claim and the policy should be incorporated in the separate agreements used with any affiliates and independent marketers.

-Intellectual Property & Brand Dilution

Restrict your employees from including any company logos or trademarks on their own personal blogs or Facebook pages unless permission is granted. Similarly, they should not be allowed to upload or paste these marks onto any other interactive forum. Clearly communicate the company’s expectations and offer examples of scenarios that are acceptable and include an approved description of the company’s brand. Make it clear that individuals who link online identities with the company and disclose their employment also incorporate the approved language into their online profiles. A policy that includes the positive can help to build advocates for the brand. Trust your employees to drive responsibly if you give them the rules of the road. You should restrict employees from posting unauthorized ‘promos’ that purport to represent the company without pre-approval.

-Liability

All posts and content uploaded onto any corporate blog, fan page or integrated into promotional multi-media application (i.e. a company podcast) must not violate copyright, privacy laws or be defamatory.

-Require Approval

You should require that each of your employees seek and obtain approval before posting or adding content to any corporate blogs, Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts, etc., and have a system in place to monitor and remove this content at all times.

-Adopt Restrictions on Posts, but understand the requirements of the NLRA first!

Under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), an employee cannot be fired based upon “protected, concerted activity” that relates to the terms and conditions of his or her employment or that involves coming together with other employees in issues relating to employment. Under the NLRB, employees have a legal right to discuss the ‘terms and conditions’ of their employment, which protects a broad spectrum of conversations, potentially including complaints about wages, working hours, supervisors, and other aspects of an employee’s working conditions. This includes such discussion through social media site. While state employment laws vary and may protect your employees right to free speech, you can still reserve the right to request that the employee avoid discussing certain subjects, withdraw certain posts, remove inappropriate comments and generally restrict the employee from posting any type of comments or videos that would tarnish the reputation of your business. However, generally speaking, complaints related to working conditions are protected. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) applies to union and non-union employees alike.

A social media policy violates federal law if a reasonable employee could interpret the policy to prohibit conversations about the terms and conditions of their employment. If a social media policy has not been updated over the past two years, the policy is likely to be out of compliance with the guidance that has been issued by the National Labor Relations Board over that period and recent NLRB decisions relating to social media policies.

But, inappropriate remarks about the public do not relate to working conditions and are therefore not protected. In the context of social media, the National Labor Relations Board has issued an Advice Memorandum each company should review before drafting its social media policy. For example, firing an employee for making inappropriate and insensitive remarks about certain crime victims via Twitter was not considered to violate the law.

Some Examples

On November 5th, 2013, an NLRB administrative law judge determined that terminating 2 employees for the following Facebook posts did not violate the employee’s rights under the NLRA:

“I don’t feel like being their b*tch and making it all happy-friendly middle school campy. Let’s do some cool sh*t, and let them figure out the money. No more Sean. Let’s f*ck it up.”

“You right. They don’t appreciate sh*t.”

“[H]ahaha! F*ck em. Field trips all the time to wherever the f*ck we want!”

“[W]on’t be there Wednesday. I’m outta town. But I’ll be back to raise hell wit ya. Don’t worry. Whatever happens I got your back too.”

But, a New York City tour guide’s Facebook postings constituted protected union organizing activities (New York Party Shuttle, LLC and Fred Pflantzer, CN: 02-CA-073340). The NLRB determined that the employer unlawfully discharged its bus driver employee when it refused to give him new assignments after he posted Facebook messages criticizing the company’s employment practices. The employee’s posts referred to one of the employee’s former employer as a “worker’s paradise” compared to his new employer, noted that “there is no union to protect you,” and complained that paychecks from his current employer sometimes bounced. His postings also stated that when he began to agitate for a union, he stopped getting scheduled for work. These posts were protected, according to the NLRB.

Concerted activity is not always protected by the Act, whether made in person or electronically via social media. The bottom line is that when conduct has a demonstrable effect on an employer’s business or is of such character as to render the employee unfit for further service, the NLRA will not protect the employee.

The Lesson: the following types of Facebook posts by employees regarding their employer have recently been determined as not constituting protected conduct under the law: 1. posts containing profanity: 2. posts hurling insults at the employer; and 3. posts showing disdain for the employer. Your business’s social media policy can restrict this type of conduct. But, employees who complain about workplace treatment based on their social media activity may be protected under the NLRA, even if their posts contain disrespectful or coarse language!

Terminating employees based on social media policies that violate the NLRA will subject employers to liability under the law. This may include reinstating the employee with full back pay and benefits. So, don’t include provisions in your company’s social media policies that the NLRB has determined to be unlawful.Your business should stick with the general guidelines established by the recent NLRB decisions and should even include specific examples of posts not permitted.

-Geolocation Issues

Your business should also pay attention to Geo-Location Issues. For example, there are instances where the location of an employee itself may actually be confidential, such as at the offices of a company that may potentially be acquired by your business. Along those lines, the social media policy should address using geo-location features of social media platforms and potentially restrict enabling such features during such times.

-Be Specific!

Where most social media policies fail according to many attorneys is that they are often missing illustrative examples. In order to comply with the NLRA, your company’s social media policy should define or give illustrative examples of terms that the NLRB has identified as problematic.

Rule: Your policy should contain carefully drafted examples that illustrate the prohibited behavior, but your policy should not include sweeping, overly broad prohibitions.

Avoid vague and general outright bans! For example, rather than banning any disclosure of a company’s confidential information, the policy should specify exactly what cannot be disclosed (such as trade secrets, customer information, business strategies and product development). Also including language that broadly restricts “any disparaging remarks” is also not a good idea. The bottom line is that employees have the right to complain about their employer and outright restrictions against posting such complaints isn’t legal.

Conclusion

Remember, your business should always monitor the content on your company-owned social media pages to ensure legal compliance. Ultimately, complying with the law and avoiding liability is up to every business owner! There is no social media ‘cookie-cutter’ policy. Each company social media policy should be specific to the company culture and its expectations.

This article was written by Philip A. Nicolosi, J.D. Mr. Nicolosi provides legal services through his law firm, Phil Nicolosi Law, P.C., focusing on startup and small business law, Internet & technology law and commercial transactions.

Mr. Nicolosi serves as a trusted advisor to numerous startups and small to medium sized businesses. This includes representation for a wide range of business law matters including business organization, corporate/LLC governance, regulatory law, contracts and transactions and most other matters outside of litigation. Mr. Nicolosi provides guidance with e-commerce, Internet and mobile marketing and technology-related legal matters to many of his business clients. He also assists startups with seed funding and venture capital law.