4 Must-Haves For Your Social Media Policy

Social media policy

A few weeks ago, we outlined some key points regarding social media policies and whether or not you should have one at your company.

Social media use amongst your employees is going to happen and you need to ensure that it will have the most positive impact possible for your company. If you’ve been thinking about what you should include in your social media policy, there are two different approaches to try.

The first involves implementing a social media policy template that can evolve with changes in social media usage among your employees. This would mean that you wouldn’t create a vast catalogue of capricious social media guidelines because this would only hinder an evolving strategy.

The second approach would see you set out a very clear social media policy for all of your employees to follow. Although more authoritarian, this approach would create a level playing field for all of your employees and leave no room for interpretation when it comes to your social media guidelines. A great example of a company social media policy that follows this approach is the IBM Social Computing Guidelines post.

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So, no matter which style your social media policy will follow, here are 4 great must-haves.

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  • Define the purpose of social media in your workplace

It’s important to remember that your social media policy for employees has to include a definition of purpose in your workplace. However, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t centre the policy around what your employees are allowed to do on social media as opposed to what they aren’t allowed to do.

Your employees have the power to actually benefit your company when using social media and you should think twice before restricting this. Your company can actually leverage this employee power and adding arbitrary restrictions to your social media guidelines is the best way to miss out on this opportunity.

For example, Facebook’s Vice President of Marketing and Operations, Chamath Palihapitiya, has garnered nearly sixty thousand followers on Twitter and has a huge influence on people outside of Facebook.

Simply think about how your employees’ use of social media can benefit your company and define its purpose in your policy around that.

  • A guideline for an employee’s personal responsibility

People across the globe often imagine that they have no personal responsibility for what they post on social media. This misconception is quite often simply down to naivety as the detached nature of social media can imply a lack of consequences for whatever people write.

With that being said, it couldn’t be more important for you to clearly state in your social media policy that your employees’ written words are their own and that they will need to take responsibility for them.

You don’t want to have to see any of your employees lose their job over inappropriate social media posts and your employees certainly won’t want to see themselves out of a job. A little common sense reminder for personal responsibility is an absolute must for your social media guidelines.

  • Check your posts’ content and then check again

As with business emails, people can easily misinterpret language in social media posts. The internet is the bastion of free speech but can also be the place where people are defined by their comments. You only have to look at celebrity gaffs to see how once respected people can become branded as racists, sexists, homophobes, fascists, etc.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and your employees should understand that as their employer, you have the right to monitor their social media usage. Your employees published content could reflect badly on them, but as their employer it could also reflect badly on your organisation. Sadly, these situations would normally constitute disciplinarian measures or termination of a contract depending on the severity of the post.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom because encouraging your employees to check their posts for inappropriate, offensive, or slanderous content only serves to benefit them and their reputations. You’re not looking to stifle the opinions of your employees; you’re simply looking to encourage the idea of good judgement.

  • Protect the company that employs you

It might sound like an obvious point but you’d be surprised at how many employees may inadvertently let confidential or proprietary information slip online. However, you don’t have to create your social media policy template around the idea that your employees need to be under constant surveillance to protect against corporate treason.

You should, however, remind your employees of their contractual obligations when it comes to trade secrets. Exposing these on social media is no different to being indiscreet at a local bar. Your employees should clearly understand that sharing this kind of confidential or proprietary information could end up with them losing their job and possibly facing a lawsuit.

Adding this key point to your social media policy will help to protect your company’s confidential information and help your employees to protect their jobs.

While there are other elements you can weave into your social media guidelines, such as details on respecting copyrights, staying productive, and encouraging community in your workplace via social media, you should always include our 4 must-haves listed here.

Reminding your employees of their personal responsibilities to check their posts for inappropriate content and protect the company that employs them couldn’t be more important.

If you’re interested in organising a training day for your employees to learn your social media policy inside out, we’ve got a wide range of fully equipped training rooms available. To learn more, visit our Training Facilities page now.