Every company needs a social media use policy

Clients often ask how they should get into social media. They’re thinking about if and how social media can impact their bottom line.

The first place they should look is inside their organization and make certain their company’s personnel policies outline appropriate social media use.

Anyone can set up a blog, Facebook, or Twitter account in a matter of minutes. And then there are thousands of forums and opportunities to comment in blogs or news articles.

Any company without a social media policy is at risk.

Need for a social media use policy

Intel learned a hard lesson when a scientist commented in a forum about a discovery. The scientist failed to disclose his affiliation with Intel, and the company was sued over his comments.

The issue is not whether or not employees can use social media; it’s what is permissible for employees to communicate when they do. Many employees think their conversations in cyberspace outside of work hours are off limits to their employers. Legal precedent says otherwise.

Therefore, the policy should say that employees must refrain from commenting, posting, sharing information about or otherwise communicating about the business, other employees, or clients in social media.

The company should be clear that the policy applies to any social media use at work and at home.

Communicating with employees

The policy update is the easy part. Communicating with employees is harder.

Some companies will take the heavy handed approach. Thou shalt not and so on..

A better approach is to emphasize trust while explaining the risks from the company’s perspective. Only in rare occasions do employees intentionally want to get their company into trouble. The other employees who are responsible will appreciate that the company doesn’t lump them in the same basket as the known troublemakers.

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