Now that so many companies have a significant online presence through their many social media accounts, it’s important for the heads of those companies to lay down some ground rules to protect workers, private information, and the company’s reputation. How should you go about creating those guidelines? We have a few suggestions.

You must first decide and clearly state who can speak for the company on any of its social media platforms. Many businesses disallow its everyday workers to respond to the questions and concerns of customers, opting for a specialized team to do it instead for the sake of consistency, privacy, and accurate representation.

Of course, it’s possible to create milder rules that allow dedicated workers to provide helpful input when necessary. If you opt for a more general policy, make sure that even the most experienced workers give customers advice that aligns with the company’s views. One way to do this is to teach your employees how to interact with customers in a helpful but company-approved manner. Consider selecting a handful of longtime employees to carry out such tasks and be clear about the rules.

Once you’ve decided who can speak to your customers online, create a list of regulations and a small list of default comments to frequently asked questions and common situations. This includes negative reviews, refund requests, slanderous language, and safety threats. The nature of social media can cause small problems to blow out of proportion, and the best way to counteract this is to give your employees a detailed response guideline. Tell them to reach out to you directly when they come across an issue, and to clearly state when they’re representing the company as an entity when discussing it on their personal or business social media account.

Your team will naturally want to know what to do, rather than what not to do, when they come across an unusual situation. Listen to their suggestions and offer some of your own to come to an appropriate conclusion. Furthermore, come up with a set of rules for the personal accounts of your employees as well, like fact-checking, law-abiding activity, and posting as an individual rather than as a company representative. In the eyes of the public, your employees are tied to your company even after they leave their positions.

Your company should also be transparent about what falls under the sensitive information category. Discussing specific procedures or timed events of your company can endanger your staff and your business. In some cases, it’s also harmful to give out too much information about new products, services, or offers your business will soon be providing. Make sure your employees know which information can be released to the public on social media and which information should be kept private until later.

Most employees groan at the mention of a new business policy, but they’re more likely to agree with it if you explain why it’s necessary. Keep your company safe, respected, and well-educated on every social media platform.

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