Why do I need a policy?
The fact is you are not going to be able to stop people using social media. You can, however, give them the right tools to manage it in a way that won’t embarrass you or them. The advantages of creating a policy are evidently outlined in this article on Entrepreneur Online, but they include the following points:
- Protect your company’s reputation
- Minimise confusion about murky legal issues
- Raise awareness for your brand
Creating an effective policy
So you’ve made the sensible decision to create a social media policy, but where do you start? We have compiled some of the key areas to consider when you design your policy.
MANAGING HOW EMPLOYEES TALK ABOUT THE COMPANY AND EACH OTHER
The fact is people are going to get frustrated at times. Sometimes, that frustration comes from work. Your policy needs to ensure that your team understand what you expect from them and the way they talk about the company and each other online. LinkedIn has a great article on what to do when you come across an employee who has aired their grievances in this public way.
APPRECIATE AND RECOGNISE DEFAMATION
Someone can be accused of defamation if they make a claim in front of more than two people. So when a comment is made on the internet, it is always at risk of being accused of being defamatory. If you hurt someone’s reputation in public, there can be some pretty hefty consequences. Journalists study entire units on defamation and what not to say. Ensure your team are at least familiar with the concept and the ramifications for both your company and them individually.
Know and minimise the risks of creating inaccurate information
REMIND YOUR EMPLOYEES THE WORLD SEES WHAT THEY POST
While you’d be ill-advised to go snooping around your employee’s private accounts, the very nature of social media is that it is fundamentally public. Anyone can see almost anything you post, and employees need to be aware. Many people don’t understand the consequences of their actions. If you ensure that your policy explicitly addresses this, you are protecting both your company and your employees.
Protect confidential and proprietary information
Most of you are very familiar with confidentiality clauses and agreements. Privacy is a huge part of business and needs to be respected. So, what happens when everything becomes free for all in the guise of social networking? Can social media and confidentiality actually co-exist in reality?
We would like to think so. The best way to ensure they can work in harmony is to ensure your team understand their restrictions.
UNDERSTAND AND CLARIFY COPYRIGHT AND FAIR USE
Copyright is a very contentious aspect of social media and digital communications in general. Often people post and share without thinking or realising that they are in fact appropriating someone else’s property. As a company, you could be liable for any copyright breaches that occur on behalf of your brand or employees. It is absolutely vital that your team, particularly members of your team with access to the company social media accounts, understand the gravity of this. Your policy and training should ensure your employees maintain a basic understanding of copyright online.
LEVERAGE SOCIAL MEDIA TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Don’t be afraid of social media. Don’t blanket ban it. Don’t underestimate its value to you as a marketing tool, and also a bonding tool for your team. Social media, when used respectfully, can be a wonderful instrument in raising morale, brand awareness and overall productivity. Welcome the responsible use of social media and you’ll find it actually adds to your business.
Most importantly, when in doubt, ask for help
The internet has woven a delightfully colourful, yet scarily vulnerable web of communication. While it encourages openness and sharing, it also arms its users in a way that face to face interaction does not. It is crucial that organisations are across the risks, and many advantages of social media. The key is a great policy and a well-educated team.
When you are unsure, don’t fret. Educate yourself and your team. Register for courses such as the Konnect Learning Employment Law conference in 2017