Foresight – Why Your Company Needs a Social Media Policy

Posted on April 3, 2012 by admin | Posted in Highlights

Why Your Company Needs a Social Media Policy

Social media can be a double-edged sword for employers. Some believe that banning social media and personal use of the Internet at work is a smart way to enhance productivity and reduce liability.

However, many of these same companies are actively recruiting online, using social media in their own marketing efforts, and investing in online communities via blogs, Twitter and Facebook. This illustrates the importance of implementing a carefully crafted social media policy.

What’s the Problem?

Your IT, HR and marketing teams can quickly identify three potential problems with employees accessing social media at work: viruses, lawsuits and reputation management. Accessing outside websites can expose your company’s network to everything from relatively benign spam to data-destroying viruses. Implementing strict security measures can minimize many of these problems, but malware and hackers can still sneak in.

In terms of legal liability, a shocking number of harassment allegations, illegal activities and inappropriate content grievances originate from the Internet activity of employees. Employees making off-color or damaging remarks about management and customers can get you in trouble from a public relations perspective, as can political, religious or other comments that offend or reflect poorly on your company.

Policy Must-Haves

A social media policy should address all of these issues clearly and succinctly. More specifically, your policy should:

• Detail who is allowed to “speak” on behalf of the company in social media. This might be the owner or executive committee or a PR person.

• Specify who in the organization is authorized to create a Facebook page, Twitter account or other online presence on behalf of the company.

• Create parameters regarding non-denigration of the company, professionalism, and confidentiality of proprietary information and trade secrets.

Much of this can be built into your company’s employment contracts, ethics agreement or code of conduct — all of which should be reviewed and signed annually by employees.

If you need help drafting a social media policy, we can direct you to the right resources.