Why every business should think about their social media policy
Social media plays an increasingly important part in all our lives, and Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogging have also become part and parcel of modern business communications. This means it’s more important than ever that employers set out clearly what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour when it comes employees and their use of social media.
Employees can sometimes forget that their use of social media outside of work can have an impact on their employer and the company’s reputation. They may think, for instance, that they have only shared sensitive information or derogatory comments about their employment with a small group of close friends. However, those friends aren’t bound by a duty of confidentiality, meaning that the information could easily be shared with many others outside of that group.
So, it’s important that any social media policy covers potential problems that could arise for employers caused by, say, an employee making offensive, embarrassing or inappropriate remarks about the company, its products or services, or about other members of staff.
Why setting ground rules makes sense
The lines between work and home life are in many instances becoming decidedly blurred. In some organisations, it has become increasingly common for employees to deal with company emails outside normal business hours, including weekends, and many employers are relaxed about employees accessing social media during the working day. So clearly a certain amount of flexibility may be required.
A good social media policy will start by outlining how the company uses social media for its own purposes, who manages the various accounts, and what can and can’t be said from a corporate perspective.
It will include what the company’s policy is regarding personal internet use at work, how company email can and can’t be used, and guidelines on the use of mobile phone and tablet devises during office hours. It should also include clear statements as to what employees can and can’t say on social media about work-related issues on both the company’s and their own social media accounts.
A flexible approach
Social media is a rapidly changing and developing area, and it makes sense to review your policy on a regular basis to ensure it’s still relevant to your needs. Requiring staff to read your social media policy and making it part of your induction process for new staff is also a good idea.