Published on 8/24/2015 12:00:00 AM
Social media is a powerful communication tool that can connect people all across the world. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram – just to name a few – offer powerful ways to share information and connect with people both personally and professionally. But sometimes, the personal and professional lines blur together. When there is no boundary between personal and professional representation, companies may spend more time cleaning up the blunders made by employees than they ever would crafting a social media policy in the first place.
First, draft your policy
Creating a simple social media policy for employees takes the guesswork out of determining what is appropriate to share on company and private accounts. Keeping these two entities separate may seem like common sense, but spelling out a policy will help protect the company as well as the employees. Consider these guidelines when crafting your company’s social media policy:
- Emphasize what employees should do rather than what they shouldn’t.
- Give examples of approved interactions on the company’s social media pages.
- Give a reference book of style and content for posting on the company’s behalf.
- Be clear about how employees will be held accountable and what consequences are at stake.
- Clarify expectations of social media use for each position.
- Take the company’s brand into consideration and identity what will need additional attention.
- Each employee should have access to the policy in the employee handbook or in other distributed material.
Next, stay on alert
Across the United States, companies like Cisco, Chrysler and Apple have fired employees for social media posts in which the employee either defamed the brand, spoke ill of customers or complained about the job. While no one was fired in the 2014 U.S. Airways retweet blunder, the crude image that the company accidently retweeted rather than flagging as inappropriate just shows the need for a closer look at how social media is handled in the workplace. With the high volume of replies required of large companies like U.S. Airways, mistakes are inevitable.
Finally, keep employees in check
Rules should be in place, however, to set expectations for behavior and consequences. It is best to prevent these occurrences from happening in the first place by setting clear rules. Creating a social media policy will help set clear guidelines and expectations to protect both the company and the individual employee, no matter what size the company may be.