Taking the time to create a social media policy for employees can save you a ton of headaches. There are many things to consider, and ensuring you are respectful and reasonable while protecting your brand, company time, and digital real estate can be challenging.
The assumption now is that everyone you hire will have an online footprint. Having guidelines protects you and sets expectations for your employees, making it easier to navigate any problems that may arise.
Things to consider in a social media policy for employees:
Official vs. Unofficial Accounts
Outline the difference between these accounts and their usage. A good social media policy will give employees guidelines to follow that protect both the employer and the employee. Make sure you establish the authority of the official account to speak on behalf of the company. Some more thoughts here.
Conduct can be trickier because a lot of this can be subjective. It would be a good idea to prohibit negative conversations about the company and online bickering involving the company. Establish workplace confidentiality and transparency about the role within the company. Make employees aware of any regulations, codes, or violations they may not be aware of at an industry level.
If you choose to write behavior guidelines, make you that you define the language clearly. What constitutes offensive content? What are your company values, and how do you expect your employees to uphold them on their unofficial channels? The weight of these decisions will depend on many variables, and they should all be considered and carefully outlined.
Establish a procedure for times when social media causes conflict. Employees should know exactly who to go to if they have questions or need support and when it is time to raise a flag.
For people like news anchors, reporters, meteorologists, or other forward-facing staff, you’re going to run into ownership questions for social media channels. If someone brings a large social media following to the job, they will want to maintain ownership.
On the flip side, if a company spends a lot of time and money building a social media following for their TV staff, they may feel entitled to that social media property. Establish ownership from the beginning, and don’t leave any gray areas. This can lead to problems later.
Other company property considerations:
- Which accounts should be tied to company email addresses, if any
- Company time spent on social media
- Social media on company devices
Final considerations for a social media policy for employees:
You’re doing great. This doesn’t have to consume you. The bottom line is that you want to save yourself a lot of trouble by establishing what is acceptable and what isn’t. Don’t wait until you have a problem.
Make sure that you revise and update your policy frequently. Know the laws in your state regarding employment and social media. Most importantly, communicate with your staff and foster a community of collaboration and engagement. Positive social media conversations are great marketing for your company and can be a great recruiting tool.