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Train Your Staff in Your Social Media Policy

March 29, 2010

With the increased usage of social media in the work place, businesses are increasingly having to face up to the complexities of  how social media should be used.  There is much advice around marketing and the various potential benefits of social media, but what about the management in terms of how your employees should represent the business?

How should your company and its employees represent themselves using social media? What are the potential issues?

As an organisation I would consider the following risks:

  • Loss or disclosure of confidential information – this needs to be considered from the companies perspective and also their clients perspective
  • Discrimination claims – from within and without the company
  • Reputation risk – who is saying what about you?
  • Vicarious liability (liability through a third party)
  • Privacy breaches
  • Defamation

Social media marketers talk about the importance of transparency, authenticity and responsibility (link to wall street journal article). How does this tie into how you should represent your company?

I would say that managing social media in the work place is much the same as managing traditional forms of media – you just need to be more onto it as anyone in the company can have their say and their reach is now global not local.

That means that in terms of representing the company you need to be clear to your employees about how social media usage ties into existing company policies and values.  This really just means educating employees on how to use commonsense when using social media.

Some good ideas summarised from the Sydney Morning Herald article Facing up to Facebook  are:

  • Disclose your affiliation with the company
  • Keep records
  • When in doubt, don’t post (really a good general rule  for anything!)
  • Give credit where credit is due
  • Don’t violate others’ rights
  • Be responsible
  • Keep in mind that local posts can have a global significance
  • Anything posted on the internet is there for ever

I would also add

  • Have a clear and concise company message that your employees understand for general publication
  • Train your staff regularly on social media usage
  • Implement a social media policy  that spells out what employees can and can’t do– there are many good examples on the internet such as IBM
  • Tie your social media policy into existing companys policies and procedures so that it references issues such as discrimination,  bullying, privacy and terms of employment.
  • Monitor social media usage – this is a whole other blog, but if you don’t know what’s being said you can’t manage it.

For more information on social media policies in the work place, see BlandsLaw’s article “Why You Need a Social Media Policy in Your Workplace”

 Vivienne Storey is Corporate Affairs Director for BlandsLaw, a legal firm specialising in social media policies for business.

You can contact her via email or visit the BlandsLaw website for more information


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