Four Things to Consider When Reviewing Your Social Media Policy

When sites such as Twitter and Facebook began to explode, leaders found themselves forced to consider the implications for their organizations security, privacy, and reputation. Some companies banned the use of social media sites and blogging altogether. When it became clear these sites weren’t going away, companies established policies on how employees should use them and what information should and should not be shared.

There are hundreds of articles on what to include in your social media policy, so we won’t go into detail, however, there are a few things you should consider when you update or create your social media policy.

Keep it Current

New platforms and changes to social networks happen all the time. Just in the first few weeks of January, Facebook has made 10 changes, Instagram revised their terms and conditions, LinkedIn has a new interface, and Google+ introduced Communities. Meet regularly to review the guidelines and update them as appropriate. Whether it’s monthly, quarterly, every six months, or annually, given how quickly the social media landscape shifts, you need to ensure the guidance you provide is timely and relevant.

Legal Ramifications

Legal ramifications of social media use in the work place are evolving. There aren’t clear cut laws on what employees can and can’t say. The National Labor Relations Board allows a group of employees to complain about a policy or procedure on their personal page. But, if a single employee posts something harmful to the company, the employer has more rights.

Once you’ve written your policy, have it reviewed by an attorney. It can be expensive; however a lawsuit could be exponentially more costly.

Social Media Training

Whenever you implement a new policy or change an existing one, some sort of communication needs to take place. This will help employees understand why the changes have been made and will give them an opportunity to ask any questions. It also allows the company to set expectations and hold employees responsible for their actions.

When it comes to responsible online behavior, companies have a unique opportunity to educate rather than mandate. This shows respect for your employees and makes them feel valued and trusted.

Know Why it Exists

Companies should create policies for business-related reasons. The need for an internal social media policy is simple: It reduces risk and keeps employees accountable.

The social media policy you might have created a few years ago, may still be relevant today, but is it still up-to-date and representative of your business online?  Social media moves quickly, and not just the way news travels online. Platforms change, rules change, and the way people use them changes.

What is your best advice for a company writing a social media policy?

Image: Rosaura Ochoa via Flickr, CC 2.0

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