By: Ayu Meganingrum – Business Group Director of Fortune PR
In this digital era, the online participation is growing as more and more people connect on social media. But recent cases in Indonesia like #BoikotIndosat caused by an employee’s irresponsible social media usage can damage a company that may not have effective policies in place.
Do you remember the recent call by netizen to boycott Indosat Ooredoo, the telecommunications provider, triggered by a commentary made by an employee on his Facebook account? According to Tempo, a manager at Indosat Ooredoo named Riko M. Ferajab (RMF) wrote a couple of statuses on May 30th 2017 stating that the current government regime is by far the worst ever and he hopes that Habib, a title for FPI leader Rizieq Shihab, will take over as the nation’s leader. In his opinion, whoever criminalizes ulemas and create lies about Muslims must be dragged to court and hanged.
His post caused a lot of controversies online and soon the news reached Alexander Rusli, the CEO of Indosat Ooredoo through Twitter. Rusli stated that steps for sanction have been taken and that the company does not tolerate employees who are against the country and its government. But soon his response created a backlash of its own as netizens managed to make boycott Indosat hashtag the top trending topic on Twitter. The criticisms filed against Indosat Ooredoo is that they shouldn’t punish RMF just because he has a different political opinion as he was defending Islam, and that they are against the criminalization of ulemas.
It is important to remember that the employees are always the company’s main buzzer, and what they have said online, whether it’s something related to the company or not, might trigger a response from the public. A negative rumor can bring a negative light to the company’s reputation. From the Indosat case, we learned that the rapid growth of social media usage where employees can post anything online requires companies to have a firmed digital and social media policy, so the company can ensure every employee have guidance about their behavior and communication online. Having this policy can provide clarity around the company’s values and culture for its internal and external publics. It also serves as a preventive action. It can prevent spending time and budget dealing with the consequences of conflict related to social media use and reduce the risk of confidential legal exposure.
In addition, Tiffany Black wrote on Inc.com that the social media policy should be about what employees can and can’t do on social media. That is why as a corporate PR practitioner, you must remind all employees about the policy, make them familiar with the policy details, teach employees about making a disclaimer when posting about the company, and socializing the rules of using company’s logo. Lastly, it is very important to explain the difference between “speaking on behalf of the company” and “speaking about the company”.