Earlier this week, we discussed the current prevalence of social media in commerce and its current importance to business prosperity and functionality. We also discussed the legalities of designing a social media workplace policy. Now, we’re going to delve into the Do’s and Don’ts of designing an appropriate social media workplace policy for your office or business. It is critical for many leaders to understand that social media isn’t going anywhere, and it is best to adapt to the evolution instead of resisting. Here are a few suggestions:
- Create a policy that encourages the appropriate use of social media. Your employees are usually your biggest evangelists and if allowed to speak organically, will often increase positive recognition of your brand by others
- Decide the overall purpose of your social media policy and how it relates to other company policies. A social media policy can often be used to strengthen other policies such as external/internal company communication and various human resource policies
- Be sure to be clear about social media use in the work place. Many companies’ policies refer broadly to using social media and often fail to differentiate between work and personal use.
- Make sure to refer to your company’s confidentiality agreement, which often supersedes company communication policy. While it may be ok to post things on Facebook or Twitter outside of work, it is never ok to post trade or company secrets in any form of communication.
- When wording your social media policy, be sure to use non-restrictive terms that allow for the constant changes in social media. You don’t want to be stuck with a policy that becomes frequently outdated.
- Do not develop a social media policy without first reviewing all federal and state laws as they relate to your company’s location.
- Do not discipline an employee for violating your company’s social media policy until first consulting with an attorney. As social media is consistently changing, so are the laws involving it.
- Do not view private social media content without permission. Viewing someone’s private profile [by method of hacking, coercion, password theft, etc.] without their expressed permission is not only a violation of privacy, it can also open the door to a myriad of discrimination lawsuits as profiles usually contain a massive amount of personal information
- Do not develop policies that in any way prohibit an individual’s freedom of speech outside of the workplace
- Do not develop a social media policy that deters employees from or frightens employees into not using its resources. Social media has quickly become an everyday part of many lives and reports indicate that companies with restrictive social media policies are often struck with low employee morale.
In the realm of social media, it is important to be proactive and adaptive as opposed to reactive. It is also important to create a comprehensive policy of social media or an individualized plan for each department as employees and departments have different functions. I.E. It may be appropriate for the Marketing team to log on to Facebook at work, but not the Finance team. It is also crucial to not exclude any employee from the policy, but to design logical inclusions that are not overly restrictive.