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Business Ethics

5 Tips for Creating a Sensible Social Media Policy


By Alec Jandorek Dec 22, 2016

sensible social media policy2

These days almost everyone has some sort of social media account. In fact, a 2016 study found that 78 percent of Americans used some sort of social media.

With so many Americans using these networks, it’s essential for your organization to have a social media policy—even if you have social media sites blocked. Because with smart phones, it’s not always enough to simply block these websites on your workplace computers.

To help you get started creating or revising your social media policy, we’ve put together these five importants tips.

1. Ensure Transparency

It’s important to make sure your social media policy is transparent. Everyone the policy affects needs to understands its purpose—and its goal. You need to communicate with employees so that they understand how their posts can impact your company.

A great example of a social media policy is GAP's. They outline examples and are very clear about which situations employees must avoid. Having easy to digest terms is great way to ensure all employees understand the policy. And keep it in places such as the company intranet or new hire paperwork ensures employees have easy access to it.

2. Promote Respectful Communication

Employees should be under the impression that other people will have access to and read anything they post. Your guidelines should ensure that their posts are always respectful of others, and they should avoid topics they wouldn't talk about in front of their colleagues.

Recently, Curt Schilling got fired from ESPN for posting inappropriate content on social media. And while Schilling wasn't posting on behalf of ESPN, the organization release him anyway.

3. Warn Against Retaliation

Like our respect example, your social media policy should make it clear that retaliation is unacceptable.. Your policy should establish protocols so that workplace conflicts are never brought to social media. Having a process for reporting disputes helps prevent retaliatory incidents. And including this in your social media guidelines reduces the likelihood that any incidents will leaving the office. 

4. Outline Potential Risks

Your policies should teach employees about the potential risks of using social media. Employees should know that they are always speaking for themselves on social media, but if they are speaking about the company, they must disclose their affiliation.

And if the employee posts about the company they must know what they can and cannot disclose because posting confidential data can have some drastic consequences. For example, if the company is public and an employee posts private information related to unreleased products or services, this could potentially constitute insider trading. Be sure to include a clause that addresses company information in your guidelines.

5. Don’t Forget About Training


While it is important to have a set list of policies for social media, training your employees is just as important. Teaching employees about the risks of social media is as important as the guidelines themselves. Business ethics training also acts as a reinforcement to the social media policy. By providing examples and showing employees potential situations they might find themselves in, you can bolster the effectiveness of your social media policy. 

Conclusion

When it comes to social media, the old adage of "an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure" holds some truth. Nipping potential violations in the bud, helps prevent your organization from experiencing a whole slew of problems down the road.

With the amount of people on social media today, having a policy in place is essential. On top of that, having properly trained employees can help reinforce the contents of the policy.

Let us know if you have any tips for crafting a social media policy in the comments below.

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