Educate your employees about social media instead of policing them
If you're a business owner these are scary to you:
- disclosure of proprietary or regulated information
- display of photographs that give away trade secrets or invade privacy,
- erroneous or negative statements about the brand, the company, its leaders, and competitors, or
- inappropriate, discriminatory or harassing comments about company employees, vendors or customers
When it comes to the social media account that represents your business you have the right to protect its image and reputation, but you have to get things in writing. You need a social media policy. Examples of social media blunders abound online, so one would think that every business would have a social media policy in place. In fact, the latest data reveals that only 29% of businesses have a social media policy. Which is why I've decided to write this article, to emphasize to you how important it is to have a social media policy for your business and show you how easy it is to prevent employee personal use of social media from affecting your business in the first place.
Social Media Policies
Essentially a social media policy is a code of conduct guide for all employees and business partners to follow. To stay strong, the social media policy needs designated individuals who will make sure it is properly implemented and observed. Governance is the term you'll see pop up as you do searches on how to carry out a social media policy.
A social media policy is not the same as a contract or enforcement. A policy lays out a set of expectations, standards and boundaries for employees and business partners for how they should conduct themselves on social media outside of work. The reason being, employees behavior and appearance reflects back on their employer. There can be consequences for the employer because of something an employee posts on social media. So it is important that it is made clear that certain activities on social media will not be accepted.
It sounds like a bummer, and it is, but there are limits to how far an employer should or can limit free speech and online self-expression. What you want your policy to communicate is that if they would like:
- create separate private and professional presence online
- use security settings to the maximize protection for your social media profiles
- do not share sensitive or confidential client or business information on social media without written and expressed permission
- fully disclose relationships if they are sharing anything that might be considered an endorsement
Those are the big ones, there are of course pages of best practices and standards that will fill pages, these are just the top four to always remember to mention.
Create A Separate Social Media Policy For Social Media Managers
Also, if you have a social media manager or social media team, be sure to create an extra social media policy for them, in addition to the company wide one. This is because of the nature of their role and their proximity to your company's social media assets.
Your reputation is important and to protect your online reputation it's important that everyone at your company understands how to appropriately use social media so they don't inadvertently damage its reputation, or get it in legal trouble! Hopefully I haven't scared you off, they are really not too difficult to develop. If you need an extra pair of eyes, don't hesitate to reach out to us for counsel on your social media policy.