Organizations may need effective social media policies to control and monitor their employees’ behavior on online platforms in a world characterized by a vast dependency on social media. Downcity Motors is a family-owned company located in Charlotte, North Carolina, specializing in motor vehicle dealership operations. The company sells BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Range Rover luxury brands in the US (Watson & Lopiano, 2016). Dell Winslow is the company president, but he is about to retire and hand it over to his daughter Susannah Winslow to continue the family tradition and legacy (Watson & Lopiano, 2016). The company has a practice of treating its employees with diligence and in a reasonable manner. However, there is a problem as one young employee uses social media channels to share his views and perceptions about some aspects of the company.
James Kenton is a young but highly reliable and the biggest producer who fetches massive sales across the company’s locations. But he has recently resorted to using his Facebook account to give opinions about the company’s business. In this particular case, Kenton has shared his perception about a recent launch of a Mercedes brand stating, “Nothing says luxury like soda pop and plastic tablecloths” (Watson & Lopiano, 2016). In this post, he complained that the company was using cheap products to design the launch event, yet the luxurious cars were designed for people with financial abilities. Kenton had previously made a similar Facebook post that was deemed disrespectful to the company and was warned for the recent past behavior.
Susannah Winslow and her father Dell are concerned that Kenton’s online behavior is causing a bad reputation for the company and might reduce sales. In their discussion with other company leaders, Susanna finds herself in a dilemma dealing with Kenton. There are several options that the company leaders are suggesting, but each has its opposing sides that can harm its reputation. Susannah wonders whether they should fire Kenton, reprimand them, demote them, suspend them, or give him another warning to control his behavior and make other employees avoid the same mistakes on social media (Soens & Claeys, 2021).
While Susannah thinks that firing Kenton is the best option, she is reminded that he might continue attacking the company and cause further damage. In addition, it might result in legal complications, which can further impair their reputation and loss because Kenton is a reliable and the biggest salesperson. Consequently, the company faces a problem associated with the lack of a good social media policy to control or monitor employees.
Brand Issue Facing the Downcity Motors
Downcity Motors is a reputable company that deals with luxury and high-end car brands, specifically sourcing them from renowned European manufacturers. Therefore, it targets customers with enough financial ability to purchase these luxury and high-end products. The company must always maintain a good reputation in public to continue its tradition. Nevertheless, there is a problem associated with the advent of communication technology.
It gives employees the freedom to air their views about various issues and attract as many public members as possible. In particular, the millennials, a generation to which Kenton belongs, are known to be the largest consumer of social media (Soens & Claeys, 2021). People have the right to air their views about various issues in their society, including at home, workplace, at school, and in other places. However, social media messages are likely to promote or damage the reputation of organizations, especially when made by an insider like Kenton. Hence, many organizations are increasingly seeking to establish effective policies to monitor and control the behavior of their employees on social media platforms.
At Downcity Motors, there is evidence that a social media policy is not in existence. Employees like Kenton are free to share their views and perceptions about the company, including their thoughts about the experience in the workplace and other activities taking place in the company. But employees should know the difference between what is right and wrong regarding the company’s reputation (Soens & Claeys, 2021). Since there are no policies or guidelines on what employees should write or avoid commenting about the company on social media, they can continue to make comments that might harm the reputation freely.
If the company decides to fire employees like Kenton, whose online behavior is damaging its reputation and image, the managers can stop them from making controversial statements. Nevertheless, this is not a practical solution because anyone in and outside the company can use social media against the company. Those who have been fired can escalate their online attacks against the company as social media is free. In the same way, other employees in the company can also start attacking the company for the behavior of using anonymous or pseudonyms as their identities on social sites (Soens & Claeys, 2021). All these events will result in severe damage to the company’s reputation.
Dealing with luxury brands like automobiles requires a good reputation and an image that resonates well with the public. If the company cannot control and monitor what its employees say about its business on social media platforms, then its image and reputation can be at risk (Soens & Claeys, 2021). Achieving this objective requires a company to have an effective policy to control employee behavior on social media. For Downcity Motors, firing, reprimanding, suspending, or demoting employees like Kenton will not solve the problem.
Social Media Policy
Downcity Motors must design and implement an effective social media policy to monitor and control its employees’ online behaviors. Since the company believes in treating the employees with diligence and retaining them, it should develop a new strategy for dealing with the current problem. The specific method is to design and implement a social media policy that should guide employees when using social sites to avoid harming the company’s good reputation and image.
New Code oF Conduct
The company should not fire, demote, or suspend Kenton. Instead, he should be retained as he is a good salesman and an essential human resource. Secondly, the company should establish a social media policy for all employees to follow within its code of conduct (Soens & Claeys, 2021). In modern times, a social media policy is effective when established within the existing code of ethics to ensure that each employee is aware of the consequences of irresponsible statements against the company. It is also suggested that the company train its employees to provide them with new skills regarding the use of social media, its impact on the company, and the consequences (Soens & Claeys, 2021).
This strategy can be an advantage to the company as it can convince the employees to use social media to make positive comments about the company and eventually help improve the image and reputation, thus promoting sales (Bizzi, 2020). Even though these recommendations are not entirely perfect, it is worth noting that they can help Susannah and the company to solve the current issue without affecting the relationship between the company and its employees.
Bizzi, L. (2020). Should HR managers allow employees to use social media at work? Behavioral and motivational outcomes of employee blogging. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 31(10), 1285-1312. Web.
Soens, E., & Claeys, A. S. (2021). Can organizations guide employees’ social media behavior? The benefits of incentive rather than restrictive social media guidelines. Journal of Communication Management, 25(4), 454-471. Web.
Watson, M. A., & Lopiano, G. R. (2016). Case Study: Should He Be Fired for That Facebook Post? Harvard business Review, 103-105.