Oh, the age of social media, when one derogatory post by an employee can put your company under fire. Remember the video prank of two Domino’s employees? Or Taco Bell’s “taco licker” crisis? Though these are extreme examples, they demonstrate the negative impact employees’ flippant use of social media can have on a company.
However, monitoring employees’ personal social media use is a slippery slope. You must find a balance between protecting the company and not infringing on the rights of your employees. Crafting a social media policy is a proactive approach to preventing social media snafus and protecting the reputation of your company.
For instance, a well-written social media policy can:
- Proactively prevent crises. Set expectations during employee on-boarding to ensure problems are proactively prevented rather than leaving your company at risk.
- Provide employees with established guidelines for communicating online. By clearly explaining the company’s expectations as to what is permissible to say or do online, you can ensure that employees understand what is right and wrong and the consequences of posting obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, discriminatory or hateful content to or about another person or entity.
- Minimize confusion over legal issues. The laws surrounding social media policy are a bit murky and confusing. Labor regulators have declared that blanket restrictions, such as “don’t discuss company matters publicly” or “don’t disparage the company,” are illegal. Therefore, with a clear and specific social media policy, you can advise your employees on what is actually legal and illegal to share.
- Prevent leaks of confidential or privileged company information. Companies should make clear that divulging company secrets is against company policy, whether it occurs online or in-person.
- Empower employees to become brand ambassadors. Your social media policy can do more than restrict destructive behavior, it an also encourage positive reinforcement of your company’s brand. Empower your employees to talk about the company’s accomplishments, values and culture on social media by setting clear guidelines. This way, employees can understand how they can use social media to help achieve business goals. For instance, if used effectively and appropriately, social media engagement can generate business leads, create buzz about your business and even recruit new employees.
In general, employees need to be mindful of their online presence and how it impacts the company, which is why having a social media policy (and training employees to abide by it) is essential in today’s digitally-driven world.
ITAC Solutions is a recruiting firm headquartered in Birmingham with additional offices in Atlanta, Huntsville, Mobile and Nashville. ITAC specializes in the temporary, contract, and direct placement of accounting, information technology, corporate and administrative professionals.