In today’s world, having a solid social media policy is just good business sense. Employees are now more connected to the outside world more than ever and so it is crucial to have your finger on the pulse of what they are saying.
The recent story of the teenage employee of an American pizzeria who was fired before even starting her first shift is demonstrative of a world where employees can and will say anything they like, often leaving it down to the employer to police them. Therefore, a social media policy can help to protect your company’s image and prevent you from receiving any undue or unfair negative press.
What should a Social Media policy contain?
Your social media policy should, first and foremost, lay out ground rules for what employees can and can’t say about their work and your company. If you have employees running company-specific social media then it is crucial that they have a clear understanding of the brand and what you want to be put out there. If, however, they are employed to do another role then being clear about what is acceptable online behaviour and what isn’t must be a crucial aspect of your policy. Equally, including details about exactly when their use is acceptable is important too. In today’s workplace, there are more and more potential distractions through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Buzzfeed and more that could prevent your employees from working as efficiently as they can. Be fair but be very clear about your expectations and the potential consequences too.
Other things to consider including are:
- Rules about confidentiality – include clear guidelines about how employees should speak to customers through social media, and about what information should be kept away from the public eye: sales numbers, salaries, costs etc.
- Copyright laws
- Clear guidelines for employees should an argument arise online – if a disagreement should occur on a social network between an employee and a customer, be sure to equip your staff with a clearly defined procedure so that your company’s reputation is kept intact, as well as to protect the member of staff.
- Social etiquette – remind your staff of simple social etiquette and remind them that this should be backed up by complying with the company’s code of conduct at all times. Playing nice should be innately human but, for some, it is not. Be warned!
Once you’ve written your policy, it is important to get it checked out by a lawyer to ensure that you are upholding your responsibilities as an employer, as well as your employees’ rights too. It is also vital to keep in mind that this policy is one which will need to evolve over time; new ideas are popping up online constantly and, as such, you will need to work quickly to adapt accordingly.
Do not allow for any loopholes simply because you failed to keep on top of the latest trends in social media. It is also worth composing the policy with employees to ensure that everyone is happy and has had a hand in creating a vitally important document. This will allow for the immediate intervention of possible issues as well as allowing you to address any employee concerns as they arise. But regardless of its content, make sure your social media policy is clear, precise, and firm.