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A Great Company-Wide Social-Media Policy Starts at the Top Executives should lead by example when it comes to building an online persona that benefits the business' brand.

By Mel Carson

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

While establishing a positive company culture is top of mind for many CEOs as they build up their businesses, there's an emerging trend where companies are thinking more creatively about their social-media policies and encouraging their staff to think smartly about how they present themselves as individuals online and in the real world.

If you think about the roles your business might have that are externally facing, it makes sense to encourage people in those jobs to proactively look after their online reputation. If everyone in your company has a buttoned-up personal brand, it will have a positive impact on your business as a whole.

Related: The Savvy Business Owner's Guide to Honesty Via Social Media

These four personal-branding strategies will go a long way to enhancing your company culture and image:

1. Be social by design starting at the top. Last year, a study revealed some shocking statistics: 68 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs were not using any social-media channel. While most of those who did have a digital presence were using LinkedIn, many were not actively engaging on the platform or did not have detailed information available about their experience or previous roles.

Influence your executive team to lead by example and create an open and authentic persona that gives insight into their backgrounds and disseminates their thoughts through social channels.

2. Have a less defensive social-media policy. Some company edicts on what employees can and can't say on social channels can be so negative that staff don't feel encouraged to express themselves digitally at all. By positively framing how you suggest your team talk about themselves, your brand and the industry they're in, they will feel confident using social platforms more often. That vibe will shine through with whatever they have to say.

Related: 6 Key Shifts in Thinking About Social Media

3. Pinpoint your natural evangelists. Whatever your niche, there will be people in your organization who are naturals at engaging with current or potential customers online and in person. Find out who they are and help build their digital profiles as trusted, go-to experts in their field. Your CEO or company founder can't be ubiquitous, so having key evangelists who generate a halo effect of content about your company not only supports your leaders, but creates opportunities in places they can't get to.

4. Invest in public speaking and writing courses. If you have team members who represent your company at conferences, show you care how they come across by giving them coaching through workshops on how to present effectively. If they write for your blog or externally for other media outlets, devote some budget to giving them some professional tips on how to maximize the impact of their words. Any edge you can give your team as individuals will help them outshine your competition.

Suggesting employees learn to market themselves better need not be seen solely in terms of self-promotion and me-casting. If you're smart about it, there's a fantastic untapped opportunity to use personal-branding strategies to craft great stories that reflects positively on your company and its culture.

Related: 6 Reasons Social Media Is Your Secret Weapon in Customer Service

Mel Carson

Founder and Principal Strategist at Delightful Communications

Mel Carson is founder of Delightful Communications, a Seattle-based social-media-strategy, digital-PR and personal-branding consulting firm. He is co-author of Pioneers of Digital and speaks about digital marketing and communications at conferences globally. He spent seven years at Microsoft as its digital-marketing evangelist.

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