Social media is certainly no longer just for personal use. From the smallest businesses to the largest corporations, companies need to have a social media presence in order to be successful in today’s digital age. But this also means employees who have their own social media pages can end up becoming representatives of their company online—but where to draw the line between personal and professional use can be tricky.
It’s important that employees know what they can and cannot post and how to positively represent their company or brand. The best way to ensure employees are utilizing social media in the most effective way is to create or update company policies that plainly spell out the correct practices. To help, we’ve asked six experts from Forbes Human Resources Council to share their suggestions on how to best craft these policies.
1. Encourage And Support The Right Behaviors
Most policies go unread, not paid attention to and often unenforced. Focus efforts on engaging your employees in the right behaviors. Make them ambassadors and get them involved. Create company hashtags, content for them to share and a positive social media training program that provides tips on how to improve their own social brand as well as covering required company do’s and don’ts. – Bianca McCann, Trifacta Inc.
2. Extend Your Business Code of Conduct
Your business code of conduct should already communicate to employees that they need to protect confidential information and not respond to inquiries from press or analysts without express permission. Employee communications via social media should additionally make it clear that the person works for your organization and that the information he or she shares is his or her own opinion. – Joyce Maroney, Kronos Incorporated
3. Beware Of Personal Freedom Rights
Social media is an ever-growing platform that leaves HR leaders in a tough spot. When crafting a social media policy, beware of how much personal freedom you take away from employees, especially when using their personal accounts. Organizations should give guidelines on how to represent the company in a positive light, but don’t set so many rules that you impede on their freedom of speech. – Tiffany Jensen, Pure Grips
4. Consult With A Lawyer To Ensure Compliance
Companies should enlist the help of an employment attorney to carefully define their social media policy, as relying on an overly broad policy may offer limited protection to both employers and employees. Also, companies should provide comprehensive training for brand ambassadors to ensure they are familiar with the social media policy and accurately represent the employer brand online. – John Feldmann, Insperity
5. Clarify Everyone’s Roles
Remind employees that they are brand ambassadors. If you want them to interact with company content by sharing and commenting, let them know so they aren’t worried about using company time to do it. Also, identify the one person at your company who is responsible for handling or responding to negative comments or controversial topics, encouraging other employees to alert this person when needed. – Michele Markey, SkillPath
6. Add To Your Existing Policies
Social media use can be a double-edged sword, so I’d suggest a policy that adds to standard work and internet use rules already in place. The policy should provide general guidelines of acceptable behaviors to manage expectations, and leaders should reserve taking action only for at-work offenses or when an employee’s behavior places the company at legal risk. Overall, consistency in enforcement is key. – Dr. Timothy J. Giardino, Cantata Health & Meta Healthcare IT Solutions