Social media help to build brands as they support the widespread diffusion of opinions and messages among customers and stakeholders. Employees take part in this process, because they can spread online messages and brand values when they are at work and when they are not working, too. This is crucial, because stakeholders believe that employees’ online communication behaviours are more authentic than official company communications. Nevertheless, when they are online, employees can also disclose unsuitable messages – or even break the rules. Many companies have therefore produced behaviour guidelines for employees, the so-called Social Media Policy (SMP).
First of all SMP are issued to prevent risk of breaking laws, such as those on property rights; of violating ethical norms, such as those of transparency and honesty; or of damaging the company’s reputation by spreading negative messages. However, an internal SMP could also boost employees’ online communication behaviours that strengthen the brand and the dialogue with stakeholders. Used as an internal communication tool, the SMP could in fact encourage employees to seize the opportunities off ered by social media brand building.