Social Media PolicyOver the past couple of years, we’ve seen numerous cases where social media was used for dubious purposes—and it seems like employees are posting corporate reputation-damaging things online every day. You don’t have to look far to find video evidence of employees breaking the rules at work, but social media faux pas at work goes way beyond the random YouTube video. Everything’s connected today, and most (if not all) of your employees will have an online presence. Without a conduct code in place, the off-kilter things they post could damage your company’s reputation, alienate customers and create all sorts of other problems. Below, you’ll learn how a solid social media policy can help your business.

Why do we Need a Policy?

People are private by nature (most of us are, anyway) and can judge corporate policies as just another way for bosses to intrude into their after-work lives. However, a well-planned and fair social media policy should actually be welcomed by workers; rather than a list of “don’ts”, they should be given a list of things to “do”. Social media is everywhere, but there’s no hard-and-fast way for people to balance their work and social media lives. Some don’t realize when they’re over the line, and a definitive policy can help them see it.

What to Include in Your Company’s Social Media Policy

Any good policy should make it very clear that each employee is responsible for what they post online, and that those posts can reflect poorly upon their employer. Some companies take a draconian approach and completely bar workers from discussing their work, but that’s unnecessary. Remind your workers that their words and actions have consequences, and that their freedom of expression really isn’t “free”. Here are some other points to include:

  • Legality: Your social media policy should ban sharing of trade secrets. Offering up proprietary info, no matter how minor, can cause damage to your company.
  • Effective time management: It’s easy to ban social media use during work hours, but since most workers have smartphones, you can’t block it out completely. As an alternative, discourage extended use of social media during work time.
  • Monitoring use: Make it known that your company will be keeping an eye on employees’ social media presence at and away from work. Just because something’s posted from home doesn’t mean that it can’t hurt your business.
  • Tone and inflection: Whatever’s included in your social media policy should be easily understood by the average worker. Complex legal jargon may sound good in court, but your goal should be to prevent issues from occurring.

Drawing up a sound social media policy is a delicate balancing act. You don’t want to be overly restrictive, but you shouldn’t be too lenient, either. It’s all about keeping your company productive, safe and secure while keeping employees relatively happy. If your business doesn’t have a policy already, you should gather your employees for a brainstorming session—and draft a policy that works for everyone.

This guest post has been provided by QT&C information assurance experts, specialists in data protection act training.  Follow @QTandC on Twitter for more information.

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