As social media continues to become a primary method of communication among many, new issues have arisen as it pertains to company policies regarding how staff use social media. It has become commonplace to see videos taken by staff both committing acts that can be embarrassing for parent companies but also find videos and pictures revealing customers in a less than positive light. Waterparks are not immune to these types of acts and many have begun developing and implementing policies that restrict what staff members can do and post.
Issues facing parks can both be well intentioned or sometimes even malicious. Triple Play Family Fun Park first developed their social media policy after staff members were taking pictures of guests and posting them online. According to IAPPA, Cedar Point’s Soak City developed a policy that was in response to staff trying to help patrons even off the clock in forums and message boards. Tony Clark, Cedar Point’s director of communications, “Participation in online forums tends to be the more ‘relaxed’ area for guests and associates to chat about Cedar Point, Soak City, and other parks around the world. It was here that we noticed associates responding to inquiries on various occasions and, in some cases, their responses were incorrect. This led to an online communications policy that outlines who should be acting as an official park representative and why.” Other parks like Frontier City have policies guided by simple courtesies such as “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.”
Another action taken by many parks is maintaining a constant vigilance on many social media sites. Parks have been known to devote a number of their team members to watching hashtags, mentions, message boards and people talking about the park online. Tony Clark, adds, “We have a member of our marketing team who monitors all of our social media channels. I also monitor activity pretty constantly, since it’s extremely easy to keep an eye on these things via phone or tablet. We actively search hashtags, keywords, and pay attention to anything in which we’re tagged.”
When, staff members are discovered to have violated a policy, most parks deal with it very quickly. Many times a first offense will result in asking the staff member to delete a post and be made aware of the policy moving forward. Future transgressions would result in more severe consequences. This is the case with Great Wolf Lodge, who says “We’ll work with the pack member and their direct manager and employee relations to talk about the policy and point out why we have a concern with the post or image. Most times, it is an innocent post by an enthusiastic pack member, sharing a moment while at work. When we remind the pack member of the policy and why we have it, the post is typically easily removed or deleted.”
Today, many people have trouble distinguishing fact from fiction online. Even the slightest misrepresentation of a company online could have far reaching results. With policies in place, both parks and staff can be sure of where they stand as it pertains to social media sites and ensure that all parties are aware and protected from negative situations.