Social media provides a great platform for fast, effective communication. It makes it easy to stay in touch with distant relatives and update friends on exciting milestones within seconds.
However, professionally, there are some things to consider — individuals should follow a social media protocol when posting content as a known employee or associate of a professional company. One unprofessional post can be detrimental to a company’s reputation, even if the guilty party published it on a personal account.
Why Your Company Needs to Implement a Social Media Policy or Guideline?
To prevent this from happening, guidelines, boundaries, processes and/or policies should be established when it comes to using social media. Employees need to know what is okay and what isn’t okay to publish on their handles. That’s not to say that you should turn into Big Brother and strictly monitor everything they view and comment on.
However, employees should know the expectations, impact of actions as well as possible corrective action up to and including termination, such as releasing confidential company information or posting discriminatory content. There should not be any confusion or surprises over any unlawful issues, should they arise.
What Your Policy Needs to Cover and How to Implement or Reinforce?
Your policy should include guidelines on how your employees are to use social media both personally and professionally. Encourage your employees to become positive advocates for the brand while discouraging them from disclosing sensitive or negative information that will reflect poorly on the company’s reputation.
For example, many companies encourage employees to include a statement reminding viewers that the views and opinions reflected on their account are their own and do not represent the views of the company.
All that being said, it is important that your policy or guidelines do not interfere with employees' rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). This allows workers to engage in concerted activities for their mutual benefit, such as discussions regarding wages and working conditions. A wise move would be for your legal counsel to take a look before implementing.
Even after you publish your first social media policy, it will need to be continually updated. After all, social media companies are always changing their policies and features, so it is important that your company keeps up with them. Try to update yours at least once a year.
Conducting a workshop or holding a meeting to review different scenarios and case studies is important. This allows your employees to ask questions, understand the importance and also provides an opportunity to coach on the dos, don’ts, and highlight all the great things that can be done via social media. Like any in-person gathering, it opens the door and fosters conversation about not only the policy but your reputation and brand that is lingering out there.
Examples of Excellent Social Media Policies
It might help to take a look at the employee social media policies some major brands implement:
1) Coca-Cola advises employees to avoid responding to negative comments unless they are a certified online spokesperson.
2) Best Buy tells employees to “Protect the brand. Protect yourself” to remind them that, even when they are off the clock, they are still representatives of the company.
3) Nordstrom discourages its employees from posting about competitor products, citing the action as a conflict of interest.
Coming up with guidelines, boundaries, processes and/or policies regarding online, social media practices for employees can be difficult, but the social media team at Launch Website Marketing and HR experts at SteinbergHR are here to help you out. Contact SteinbergHR today if you are ready to draft or refresh a social media policy. SteinbergHR is also able to coach, support, or facilitate an all-employee meeting to enforce your guidelines and boundaries in an engaging, creative, and fun way! E-Mail: email@example.com