HR social media policies kill social selling


However, company policies against social media are hampering many a sales team. In this post, I outline the 4 main components of social selling. I’ll explain the first component, Policy. I even provide a sample Social Media Policy for Sales.


Four Components of Social Selling


  1. Policy – It all starts here. Without a policy to govern social media use, expect problems and inconsistencies. Below I go into more detail, including a story of what could go wrong. HR Business Partners to sales should help drive the creation of a policy.
  2. Profile – To be a social seller, reps need to have compelling social profiles.  The Sales Force Effectiveness blog has many posts on this topic. Simply search on LinkedIn in the search bar above to review them.
  3. Reach – Having a great profile gets a Rep nowhere – the goal is to expand social reach by building a usable network. Look for a future post on this topic.
  4. Referral – Once a rep has a network of reach, it can be leveraged. One way to do this is through social debt that leads to referrals.


The Policy Problem

Rick was hired 6 months ago into Bounty, Inc. Bounty is a B2B supplier to Small to Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs).  At his previous company, Rick garnered some success via social selling. He assumed the same would work at Bounty.  His early and often Facebook wins for Bounty were quickly squashed.  An outspoken prospect did not like Rick’s aggressive style. The prospect posted negatively on Bounty’s Facebook site.  Mary in Marketing saw the post (during an infrequent scan of the company page.) Mary told Connie from HR over lunch. Connie researched and found that Rick was not complying with Bounty social media policies.


Trouble for Rick?

A NAVEX Global study found only 63% of employers had a social media policy. Altimeter Group research checked for formalized customer-facing social media efforts for sales. Their report showed only 11% of companies had this, compared to 82% for marketing. My colleague took his own informal poll on the floor of SHRM 2013.  He asked HR leaders there about social media policies. About half of them said their policies prevented sales reps from social selling.  It’s time for a social media policy to allow sales to socially sell.


A Social Media Policy for Sales

HR needs to set the tone for effective social media use in sales. Create a social media policy that covers these sections. In each section, it is best to provide examples.  


  • Scope of the policy – a section that spells out who the policy is for and who it is not for. Also, it describes social media, enforcement and the owner of the policy.
  • Social media profile usage – a section to guide users to set up acceptable social media profiles. It includes the resource(s) to go to for social media assistance.
  • Confidentiality – a warning about publishing company confidential information.
  • Privacy and honesty – paragraphs on protecting the privacy of oneself and the company.  Also, about being honest and transparent in social media. Includes a word about using disclaimers when posting socially.
  • Respect – text that advises on respecting copyrights, audience, your company and your coworkers.  Also contains paragraphs on protecting customers, partners and suppliers. As well, it advises on how to manage controversial issues in social media.
  • Ambassadorship – this section reminds the sales rep about their duties as an ambassador of the company.  It urges social media users to think about consequences and admitting errors or mistakes.
  • Social media tips – a section with general guidance on using social media successfully.


Better yet, download this sample Social Media Policy for Sales to get a head start. Tweak it for your company’s use.  Ensure someone reviews it from a legal standpoint. Then, work with Sales leadership to improve Reps’ social profiles, reach, and referrals.



What about Rick? He didn’t get into trouble.  Instead, Bounty used the situation to its benefit. They avoided a knee-jerk reaction. Hanna (HR’s business partner to Sales) worked with Connie to craft a sales-friendly policy. Rick became the go-to guy for the whole sales force to learn social selling.  Bounty is exceeding their number as a result.


Image courtesy of -> smarnad.