An increasing number of customers find products and services on social media today. They also check businesses online for social proof. A social media policy will protect your business online, by giving your employees guidelines for both professional and personal use.
In this article, we will discuss how your business will benefit from social media policy best practices, and how to avoid mistakes and misuse that can damage your brand.
After reading, remember to download Croner’s social media policy template below. Call our contracts & documentation experts for further advice, on 0800 141 3773.
Why you need a social media policy for employees
Many businesses and organisations today rely on social media sites for communications and marketing. Even if some companies only run a Facebook post once a week, most of their employees will use various social media channels.
Let’s say your business doesn’t use an Instagram or Reddit account, but your staff do. One of your employees posts negative, derogatory comments about their workplace on Reddit.
How will you react to this and manage the situation?
Other less obvious situations can occur. Employees posting discriminatory content of any kind, be it racist, homophobic or ageist, could potentially cause damage to your business.
Some more subtle situations will relate to a lack of digital awareness. For example, you could find a senior-level employee posting content on LinkedIn that they haven’t created, and they fail to mention the source. This potentially infringes on copyright and intellectual property, and it’s regarded as bad practice.
A new method of communication
As a fairly new communication environment, social networks are still expanding and self-regulating. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, three traditional platforms, have evolved constantly over the years. Today employees can find work-relevant content on YouTube – “how to” or training videos. Businesses need to take all of these factors into consideration in their social media conduct policy.
Avoid breaking GDPR rules
Your social media policy for employees must also cover relevant aspects of UK law. As we mentioned above, clarify that employees should not break GDPR rules and infringe on copyright and intellectual property.
Consult a Croner expert today to make sure you don’t leave anything out. Gaps in your social media work policy could potentially damage your business online.
Social media policy examples: the good and the bad
We all learn a lot from good and bad examples in everyday life. This is the same when it comes to social media work policy. Examples of positive, effective guidelines for the use of social media by employees can inspire other business leaders. At the same time, instances of bad practice highlight what you must avoid.
Companies like Dell and Pfizer have constantly attracted praise for their insights into social media conduct policy. They seem to have found the right balance to avoid their policies being too restrictive, while also protecting and strengthening their brand reputation.
Only a few years ago, who would have thought of the need for social media policies for small companies?
As practices evolve, more companies have become aware they will benefit from a social media work policy. Simply banning the use of social media at work by employees has been more of a common practice in the past. Today, businesses take a more flexible approach.
As we mentioned above, depending on the industry, employees can do work-related research on YouTube. They can find business partnerships or ideas on LinkedIn. Or even access relevant industry news via Facebook and Twitter.
It’s up to you to decide what qualifies as fair, undisruptive use of social media by employees at work. Start with our employer's social media policy template below and decide what other aspects you need to look at.
Remember to also regularly review and adapt your policy to follow the evolution of social media platforms.
Good examples of workplace social media policy
We mentioned Dell and Pfizer as two companies that set a good example with their social media policy. Let’s look at how they do it.
You can learn the following from Dell’s policy:
- It describes social media use as an “opportunity to champion Dell Technologies brands”.
- It points out that this comes with risks and responsibilities.
- The policy highlights the company culture and values.
Among these, we see: being nice, having fun and connecting, while protecting personal information and promoting transparency.
Pfizer calls their policy “social media community guidelines”. This overlaps with Dell’s view about social media strengthening its brand through promoting company values.
Pfizer’s policy covers essential aspects related to the pharmaceutical industry:
- “Moderation, monitoring and reporting” come across as governing aspects.
- The policy outlines what qualifies as bad use of social media. For example, it prohibits referencing a medicinal product and possible side effects.
- Overall, Pfizer describes what users need to avoid. This stands out as a more cautious approach compared to Dell.
The differences between these two policies emphasise how your social media policy needs to be specific to your business. Avoid copying exactly what other companies are doing.
Bad Examples of workplace social media policy
Bad social media policy examples overlook important legal and ethical aspects. When you think of what will classify as misuse by employees, consider aspects of social media ethics in your policy.
The following would make a bad example of social media policy:
- It is too loose or too restrictive. This means it either does not give sufficient social media guidelines of what employees should avoid or overly restricts their involvement with the company’s online presence.
- It fails to refer to instances of copyright, confidential information and data protection breaches.
- The policy only refers to the use of and engagement with the company’s online content. It leaves out personal use of social media.
Remember to regularly check who holds admin and editor rights to your social media pages. Surprisingly, some companies forget to do this, and previous employees continue to have access months after they stopped working there.
Benefits of employee advocacy programmes
Many companies forget to engage their staff on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. This has been highlighted as a mistake by digital marketing specialists for a few years now. Running an effective employee advocacy programme can potentially benefit your business.
When workers are happy to promote the company they work for, it stands as proof of their happiness in the workplace.
If you decide to go this route, remember to cover best practices in your social media policy for employees. You need to clearly outline not only what your staff should not post, but how they can positively contribute too.
Our Croner social media policy template for UK businesses below should give you a good start.
Call a Croner expert today
As every business is different, you need to decide which aspects of a social media work policy to cover. If your policy sounds too relaxed or restrictive, it could negatively impact your business and employees’ engagement with your social media channels. Don’t risk damage to your reputation by ill-intended or inadvertent misuse by workers.
Download our social media policy template below, and talk to a Croner contracts & documentation expert to support you further, on 0800 141 3773.
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