Why Your Business Should Have a Social Media Policy
Social media has moved from an emerging form of communication to the mainstream, and as a result, most small businesses use social media within their marketing strategies. Because this is now the primary communication vehicle for small businesses, owners need to put in policies to guide their employees’ online actions.
A social media policy informs employees on the corporate guidelines or principles of communicating in the online world. Unfortunately, as a small business owner, you must contemplate what might happen if an employee says or does something inappropriate that can potentially harm your brand.
In a 2009 Mashable article that is still true today, Sharlyn Lauby shares how to adopt a social media policy in, Should Your Company Have a Social Media Policy? Here’s what you should consider from a legal perspective when developing a social media policy:
- Employers need to be upfront with employees that they have no right to privacy concerning social networking. “Employers reserve the right to monitor employee use of social media regardless of location (i.e. at work on a company computer or on personal time with a home computer).”
- Employees “should be made aware that company policies on anti-harassment, ethics and company loyalty extend to all forms of communication (including social media) both inside and outside the workplace.” People need to remember that bashing your organization/boss/co-workers online can lead to consequences at work.
If social media use is allowed in the workplace, how much is too much? No matter the industry, social media is accessed either on a company computer or on an employee’s cell phone while they are at work. Elissa Nauful has an additional “must-have” for any social media policy:
Clear Expectations. Regardless of how your company uses social media, your policy should be made crystal clear. Identify each popular social media outlet and explain what use is acceptable at your company. Obviously, companies are held liable for their employees’ behavior so be sure to review the legal consequences of social media use. That said, if an employee understands the policy but misuses social media, his behavior and professional judgment should be called into question, not their online use.
Social media is still growing and evolving. There are new mediums like Tik Tok and Clubhouse that became popular during the 2020 pandemic. Stay on top of what’s new with social media and how it is used. If you do not have a social media policy, now is not too late to create one. If your policy needs to be changed, change it – but be sure that all of your employees are made aware.
This original blog was updated by Sandi Webster.
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