I’ve had the opportunity to spend time this week with various executives at Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI) in Knoxville, TN. While conversations have ranged across the spectrum, I’m now much more aware of the importance of social media being used by employees of a company to support overall marketing and promotion efforts.

Crafting a social media policy for your company’s employees is becoming a must. At SNI, employees are encouraged to use social media with clear boundaries. A key takeaway is that employees must understand their roles and responsibilities in the process. As we know, cases like Domino’s a few years ago make it clear that poor use of social media platforms can mean big problems for companies that are not easily fixed. So, where do you begin?

At Scripps, employees from various areas of the company met to discuss and help hammer out a policy. A great first step as there has to be buy-in from everyone or any social media policy will fail. As described in a new e-book from Radian 6, a social media policy should reflect a company’s values, image and brand. It’s also critical that all employees understand the legal and ethical consequences of using social media as an employee.

These issues aside, if you can get your employees to help create an authentic personality that supports your brand and consistently share that personality with others in social media, you have an inexpensive and effective “secret weapon.”