In our blog post last week on the topic of addressing the use of social media in the workplace, we suggested that companies develop a sensible social media policy to help set guidelines and rules around acceptable and unacceptable behavior when it comes to socializing online. That sounds reasonable, but where do you begin? We have a free template for download to help you with that starting point. Whether you use this resource or develop your own from scratch, here are a some key elements that any social media policy should consider including.
With any company policy, it’s important to state up-front why the policy exists and what the objective of setting out guidelines is. However, this explanation is especially critical when it comes to a policy that governs the use of social media. For some members of your workforce, interacting via social media channels is just an occasional form of communication. For other individuals who have grown up with the Internet, social media is communication, full of hashtags and emoticons and abbreviated grammar. It’s important that your policy places the diverse generations on the same page when it comes to the attitude towards social media that you want your business to assume.
Download our sample Social Media Policy template!
When you say ‘social media’, do you mean posting message and images, looking at them, or both? Are there some sites or platforms that you are including or excluding? What do you mean when you say some actions are acceptable for business? Defining your terms in the constantly evolving universe of social media will help your employees navigate the policy and abide by it. If you don’t define what you mean for everyone, then each individual will define - and use - the policy’s terms the way that suits his/her fancy, and those definitions may be very different than what you intend. A lack of definitions may also create feelings of inequality when it comes to employees engaging through social media channels.
This is the heart of your policy; where you let people know what they should or should not be doing when it comes to social media. This section should spell out prohibited uses and conduct. However, it’s also useful to include acceptable and even beneficial ways that social media can be used, especially if your business engages customers and prospects through these means. It’s important to be as thorough, specific, and clear as possible when drafting your procedures. Use examples, and explain the rationale behind these rules so that your employees don’t think they are just arbitrary obstacles put in place to keep them from communicating with friends and family.
The more your organization uses social media as a way to engage customers and build a reputation, the more comprehensive and explicit your social media policy will need to be. Because these platforms - like the Internet - are fluid, you’ll need to keep your policy current. The best way to make the latest version available to your employees is by posting updates to the self-service portal of your Human Capital Management system. That way, employees can always access and be asked to acknowledge their understanding of the policy. A common understanding of your policy will help your company use social media joyfully and to its greatest business advantage.
For additional guidance regarding when and how to
regulate the use of social media, attend our complimentary webinar
Social Media in the Workplace
Friday, November 16 at 11:00am PST
When registering for the session, please ensure that you enter ‘Bennett/Porter & Associates’ in the registration field that reads “Please provide the name of the company that referred you to this webinar.”