How to Create a Social Media Policy for Employees

How to Create a Social Media Policy

You can inform how lengthy somebody has labored in social media by asking about their largest gaffe. The mis-tweet that was deleted as rapidly because it was despatched. The time Facebook went reside from a telephone inside a pocket. Accidents occur, positive. But as social media enters its second decade of being somebody’s job, accidents can turn out to be main offenses. Even fireable ones.

No one desires to lose their job due to social media, so workers and employers should align on the correct methods to use social media on firm time. Boundaries and penalties have to be outlined alongside different firm guidelines, normally in an worker handbook.

What is a social media coverage?

A social media coverage serves to defend workers as a lot because it does the corporate for which they work. It offers workers pointers for private social media use in a means that isn’t fully apparent and controlling, but in addition protects each the worker and employer.

History of Social Media Policies

What originated within the 2000s as “Blog Policy” was basically a warning about what workers may and shouldn’t weblog about or publish on a web-based message board. This rapidly advanced into pointers for “online content” and, particularly, social media exercise.

Zappos’ fast and easy coverage, “Be real and use your best judgment,” might have handed the HR sniff check a decade in the past. Today, although, organizations with a few or 1000’s of workers should outline expectations for how to “be real” throughout a number of social networks and what “best judgment” means to them.

When HR owns worker coverage and the accompanying handbook, it could depend on resident subject material specialists in Communications, Marketing or Digital to help in creating an worker coverage. As you get began, analysis and browse a few related insurance policies in your trade to perceive how they deal with the inclusion of privateness issues, authorized info and private duty. 

Use the social media coverage examples under and obtain our free template to get your worker coverage into form. Remember to overview your social media coverage with a lawyer earlier than it’s formally adopted.

What Should Be in a Social Media Policy

Part 1: Purpose 

Begin a social media coverage with a assertion of goal as to why the corporate makes use of social media and the way it approaches this as a communications instrument. Keep it succinct and relevant to those that will learn it. 

Here’s a nice instance from Brown University. They use three sentences to body the intro of this social media coverage:

“Social media are highly effective communication instruments. Every Brown-related account performs a essential, built-in and supportive position in telling the University’s story.

Brown’s Office of University Communications makes use of social media to interact with a international viewers, together with present and potential college students, school, workers, alumni, mother and father, exterior media and area people members.”

Part 2: Definitions

Define “social media” as the corporate considers it to be. Generally, social media refers to conversations and content material shared between a number of individuals by way of the Internet, together with blogs, wikis, message boards, on-line boards, chat rooms, and social networking websites and apps.

Identify who within the firm could be a useful resource for workers with questions on skilled and private use, together with growing technique for new accounts.

Part three: Branding

Explain how to use model belongings (or not) in social media. Consider how present model requirements for emblem use and colours could be prolonged for use on social media. Will the corporate present appropriate variations of the brand and branding belongings to match social media profiles? Are there naming conventions for a company-related account, both for a division, product/service or particular person? 

Here’s how Tufts University handles this:

Use of the Tufts Name

“In addition to assembly the necessities set forth within the Guidelines on the usage of Tufts’ names and insignias, there are distinctive challenges related to utilizing the Tufts identify in social media, such because the potential want to abbreviate a program or entity identify for a Twitter account.

  • Use of the Tufts seal or wordmark as a profile picture on Facebook, Twitter, or different social media account isn’t allowed.
  • Be as clear as potential when naming your social media accounts, whereas maintaining in thoughts character limits. Avoid utilizing acronyms that might not be universally acknowledged.”

Part four: Distinguish How Social Media is Used

When workers publish on their private social media accounts, they’re doing in order a person and never essentially as an worker. Employers should respect this and might encourage workers to current the very best model of themselves on-line.

Employees are additionally the corporate’s first line of advocates and influencers. In most circumstances, they don’t want to have entry to the model account to be amplifying content material from the corporate. In truth, worker advocacy packages are designed to encourage workers to amplify content material to their private networks. This opens up the corporate, and the worker, to the extra threat that ought to be recognized and defined within the coverage.

Employees who contribute to branded firm accounts ought to have one other set of pointers which can be extra intently tied to their job duties. 

Part 5: Do Not Act as a Spokesperson

Individual workers don’t converse for the corporate on private social media accounts. 

Here’s a nice instance from Wal-Mart:

“Remember that we have a dedicated team tasked with responding to customer inquiries or criticism. Our official Walmart social team is responsible for engaging customers through our page. To avoid confusion, we ask that you not attempt to respond to customer inquiries or comments directed specifically to the Company or asking for an official Company response on this site.” 

Part 6: Own Your Opinion 

Employees have sole duty for what’s posted to their social media accounts and profiles. Social media communications are public file and could be found and shared. 

In this instance from Adidas, they stress that “the internet never forgets:”

You are personally accountable for the content material you publish on blogs, wikis or every other type of user-generated media. Please do not forget that the web by no means forgets. This means all the things you publish can be seen to the world for a very, very very long time. Common sense is a big issue right here. If you might be about to publish one thing that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, overview.”

Part 7: Disclosure 

Disclose your work and employer when it’s pertinent — like sharing a hyperlink to the corporate web site or participating in a web-based dialog in regards to the firm. 

Let’s take a take a look at the social media coverage instance from Tufts once more:

For transparency, workers who use private social media channels to speak about work or Tufts-related issues are requested to disclose their affiliation with Tufts. Employees might take into account including a disclaimer to their social media accounts stating that their ideas are their very own. For occasion, on Twitter, customers can use the “Bio” subject to notice that the views and ideas expressed are their very own and don’t mirror the views of Tufts.”

Part eight: Watch the Words

Refrain from vulgar and obscene language in regards to the firm and associates. 

Here’s how the National Labor Relations Board handles this:

“Such exercise isn’t protected should you say issues about your employer which can be egregiously offensive or knowingly and intentionally false, or should you publicly disparage your employer’s services or products with out relating your complaints to any labor controversy.”

Part 9: Confidentiality & Privacy

Employees typically know to maintain confidential details about the corporate and stakeholders personal — however might not know precisely what info applies to this rule.  It’s useful to pre-identify the sorts of confidential and personal details about the corporate that shouldn’t be shared on-line at any time. 

Here’s how IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines handles confidentiality and privateness:

5. Respect copyright, truthful use, and monetary disclosure legal guidelines.

6. Don’t present IBM’s or a consumer’s, associate’s or provider’s confidential or different proprietary info and by no means talk about IBM enterprise efficiency or different delicate issues about enterprise outcomes or plans publicly.

7. Don’t cite or reference shoppers, companions or suppliers on business-related issues with out their approval. When you do make a reference, hyperlink again to the supply and don’t publish content material which may permit inferences to be drawn which may harm a consumer relationship with IBM.

Part 10: Copyright

Ask workers to respect copyright legal guidelines and embody correct attributions when vital.

Part 11: Consequence

Identify the implications of not following the coverage, together with termination. Take notice, the National Labor Relations Board has dominated that utilizing social media could be a type of “protected concerted” exercise — although this doesn’t maintain up for particular person griping on a social media publish or video.

“Inappropriate postings that may include discriminatory remarks, harassment, and threats of violence or similar inappropriate or unlawful conduct will not be tolerated and may subject you to disciplinary action up to and including termination.”

The Legality of Employee Policies

No two social media insurance policies are created equally. There are authorized boundaries for how restrictive they are often. Some organizations pay extra consideration to what not to do, whereas others are useful in framing pointers in a means that helps workers higher perceive how to use social media personally and professionally. 

Employee insurance policies are topic to overview by the National Labor Relation’s Board (NLRB). Over the previous 10 years, the NLRB has made selections and issued steering on particular worker handbook guidelines. Recently, a determination was issued in response to The Boeing Company that redefined some guidelines as presumptively lawful and illegal. 

Blanket guidelines, or these which can be all-encompassing for workers with out regard to particular conditions, are the principles deemed largely illegal by the NLRB. When writing an worker handbook coverage, it’s finest to remember to keep away from the next: 

  • Blanket guidelines prohibiting workers from making disparaging or unfavorable remarks in regards to the firm;
  • Blanket guidelines prohibiting workers from criticizing the employer;
  • Blanket guidelines prohibiting workers from making false or inaccurate statements;
  • Blanket guidelines offering that wages, advantages, or working situations are confidential or stopping workers from discussing them; and
  • Blanket guidelines prohibiting workers from becoming a member of outdoors organizations.

Social Media Policy TemplateSet an annual reminder to overview and replace your social media coverage. The coverage ought to be a residing doc to mirror how rapidly the norms of on-line habits and actions change. 

Get Your FREE Social Media Policy Template Now

To get began by yourself worker social media coverage refresh, obtain our free template now (each PDF and Word Versions).

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