3 LinkedIn directives your company handbook should include

How are employees conveying your organization’s name? Do they link to the correct Web page? These simple guidelines must be clear to everyone in your workforce.

Are LinkedIn guidelines provided in your employee handbook?

A company handbook is an important and effective communication tool between an employer and employees, and it sets forth the company’s expectations.

Even though its content might vary from business to business, it often includes a welcome/mission statement, company overview, policies and procedures, holidays, dress code, benefits, legal obligations as an employer and employees’ rights.

More recently, social media policies have become part of employee handbooks, detailing acceptable and unacceptable work behavior or Internet use. Unfortunately, the social media policies too often contain a long list of things that employees should avoid doing and don’t provide clear direction on how employees should represent themselves or the brand online.

The professional network

Nowadays, what’s one of the first things people do when they start a new job? They update their LinkedIn profile. If we give five new employees an employee handbook with no clear direction on how to approach updating LinkedIn, we could end up with five different company name variations, five different company descriptions and roles that are in paragraph form, when the employer actually prefers them in bullet point form.

According to an employee activism global online report conducted by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, employers are not effectively communicating to employees. The research revealed that only four in 10 employees can confidently describe to others what their employer does.

That’s an issue. So, why not provide recommendations in the handbook? Sure, we can’t tell employees what to do on their profiles, but we can definitely make suggestions to encourage consistency.

What to emphasize

Here are a few LinkedIn recommendations that should be added to an employee handbook under the social media policy section:

  • Headline. Among the most prominent parts of a LinkedIn profile, headlines show up in LinkedIn’s newsfeed and in search. Simple missteps often occur: We’ve seen @ symbols instead of at, the wrong variation of a company name, and even phone numbers (which I despise and which go against LinkedIn’s User Agreement under the LinkedIn “DOs” and “DON’Ts” section). As a best practice, “Title at Company Name” works just fine for a headline.
  • Company name. You’d be surprised how many variations of a company name are on LinkedIn. Let’s take Starbucks, for instance. Some Starbucks employees on LinkedIn refer to the company as Starbucks, Inc., while others refer to it as The Starbucks Company, Starbucks and The Starbucks Coffee Company. Which is correct? No one knows. Also recommend that the company name under the Experience section links to the correct company page.
  • Role and company description. Under the Experience section of a LinkedIn profile, we recommend adding a summary of an employee’s role and an approved description of your company (think boilerplate).

Once the employee is properly onboarded, you can start empowering them to become brand ambassadors and share company content on social media.

A version of this article first appeared on Identity PR.

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