While we would like to think people have a firm understanding of how and when to post online, they don’t. And that lack of knowledge is dangerous in the workplace. One wrong picture, post or comment could put a company and an employee in hot water quickly, and it can be done without them even realizing it.
A social media policy is designed to protect both the company and the employee by laying out clear guidelines for what is acceptable and what is not, as well as what happens if the rules are broken. While your social media policy will vary depending on your employees, beliefs and industry, here are a few points to get you started (or, validate your existing policy against):
Employee Social Media usage
- Unless the use of social media is part of the employee’s job description, time spent on social media should be reserved for break/lunch.
- Posting on social media during work trips should be kept to a minimum.
- Posting about events, customers, or meetings can cause issues if it is seen by the wrong parties.
- Employees should not post on the official brand channels as themselves.
- Content posted by a brand employee reflects on the brand and will be treated as an official statement from the employee.
- Access to brand social media channels should be limited, and the list of authorized users should be reviewed regularly .
Representing yourself & the company
If any employee participates in a conversation about the brand or the industry in a public forum they must identify themselves as an employee. Not only is this ethical, but failure to do so could result in personal liability exposure under the Federal Trade Commission regulations. (HINT: All social media channels are considered public, regardless of your privacy settings)
It’s good business practice for companies and individuals to keep certain topics confidential. This includes things heard during conversations between employees in and out of the workplace. Refrain from speculation on the future of the Company and its products. Keep topics focused to matters of public record when speaking about the Company or industry. Do not disclose non-public company information or photography or the personal information of others.
Common sense is not so common.
Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique (1764)
If you are unsure about posting the content or comment, don’t. It is never worth the risk to your job or future career. Treat past and present co-workers, other personnel, suppliers, consumers, partners, competitors, the Company and yourself with respect. Avoid posting materials and comments that could be seen as disrespectful, offensive, threatening, demeaning or abusive. Acknowledge differences of opinion. If you can’t be nice – log off!
Public vs Private domain
The Internet is a public space, so consider everything you post to the Internet the same as anything you would post to a bulletin board or submit to a newspaper. Nothing you post is private; even if you have strict privacy settings, assume that anyone could potentially see the content. Many eyes may fall upon your words, images and comments, including those of reporters, consumers, your manager and the competition. No matter how private the site you’re using may seem, it isn’t and others will see it. The delete button does not exist when it comes to social media and once it is out there, it is virtually impossible to take it back.
The bottom line: A social media policy should be a key training document for all employees, and should be reviewed with any employees who are moving into a role that has access to the company’s corporate social media accounts.
Does your company have a social media policy in place?
Image Credit: Unknown. If you know, let me know! I will update it!