Social media is a vital part of marketing your business, giving you new ways to access people. As companies ponder what to post on social platforms and how to represent their brands, they might be overlooking something critical: a social media policy.
Has your company made a social media policy? If not, here are some answers to often asked questions about how that works — and why you need one.
Why do I need a social media policy?
All policies for your company are created to protect both the company and the employees; a social media policy is no different. It is an outline to explain what is acceptable to be posted on social media outlets to ensure that the appropriate information is shared with customers and team members. Your policy might outline your marketing team’s posts on your business accounts or what your employees can post on their personal pages — or both.
Can my social media policy control what my employees say on their pages?
Social media is a tool that can be used to expand your brand awareness, and you want to make sure your employees are good brand ambassadors. One recent example during the Coronavirus pandemic is employees working from home who post joking images showing that they aren’t doing any work. Even if your team member has no mention of your page on his or her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat account, this may come back and reflect poorly on your brand.
This is not legal advice. Depending on the situation, you may or may not be able to fire or discipline employees for things they do or say on social media. Speak to your attorney about this. However, your company could also be held liable for things employees say online.
So the short answer is no, you cannot control everything your team members will say. However, your policy should outline what employees can and cannot say about the company and can limit people from posting on personal accounts during working hours.
What should I include in my social media policy?
With new social outlets emerging constantly, it is important to make broad statements that can be applied to all social media accounts.
Your policy should spell out the roles of people who have access to the business accounts and what can and cannot be said there. Your rules here can be as strict as you want; they are the company’s accounts and you have control of those. In this section, you might include information about your company’s branding guide, such as colors, logos, and typefaces you use. Cite examples of good and bad wording and things to mention.
In the section about employee behavior, you need to tread more carefully. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, your policy should ask employees to:
Refrain from identifying themselves as representing their employer and/or their employer’s views unless they are authorized to do so.
Preface their opinions about their industry, employer or work duties with a disclaimer stating that their views do not necessarily represent their employer’s.
Avoid sharing any proprietary or confidential information about the company or its customers, prospects, partners or suppliers.
Never post anything threatening, harassing, bullying or defamatory or that could contribute to a hostile work environment by disparaging others based on race, gender, disability, religion and any status protected by law or company policy.
A few other things to include:
• Unacceptable Behavior – Outline specific behaviors that are not allowed to be shared via personal or professional social media.
• Current Policies – Include or update current policies that complement or relate to the social media policy to ensure alignment across the company.
• Disciplinary Actions – Be sure to spell out guidelines to educate employees on the actions that will be taken if they do not adhere to the policy.
Creating a policy can protect you later. If there ever is an issue involving social media, you will have a list of guidelines and rules that have been agreed upon. If an employee breaches this contract, you should have consequences put into place to ensure that it does not happen again.
Contact us if you need help with your social media management.