Why Companies Should Implement Social Media Policies
Posted On: Thursday, August 11, 2016
Due to the potential damage that can be done to a company’s reputation, it is imperative that policies are implemented that focus on social media. Social media has become very prevalent in our society and like everything else, it comes with its positives and negatives. For example, social media has become a great platform for companies to promote their brand and stay connected with their customers. However, there is a fine line between one’s personal and professional life that may overlap. Professional’s personal social media accounts are no longer a representation of only themselves, but also a representation of the company that they work for.
Recently, we have seen several accounts in the news of employees being fired by their company due to inappropriate posts on their personal social media accounts. In response to that, a bill was recently passed in Massachusetts which increases privacy protection for employees social media accounts.If the bill ultimately passes into law, Massachusetts will join more than 25 other states that have passed laws protecting employees’ social media privacy. The Bill states that an employer may not require, request or cause an employee or job applicant to provide access to a personal social media account or service. The Act also prohibits employers from making the disclosure of social media account information a condition of employment. This restriction would include, requiring employees to accept a Facebook “friend request” or even a LinkedIn invitation from their employers as a condition of continued employment.
This law prohibits employers from directly accessing their employees social media accounts, but does not stop them from seeing a scandalous post that is brought to their attention. If an employee were to post something that people found offensive they can just screenshot the post and email it to the company. In that case if the post is offensive and does not represent company values, then the employee can be fired. Implementing social media policies will give employees clear guidelines on what is ok and not ok to post on their social media accounts. These tips and guidelines will not only protect the company’s reputation, but also prevent legal disputes in the future over social media posts. If employees are given clear guidelines to refer to, they can avoid incriminating or offensive posts. In many of these cases employees are blindsided when they are fired for a social media post. Perhaps, they didn`t think their boss would find the post or they didn`t think what they said was wrong or offensive. Below are two reasons why social media policies would be beneficial for both the company and the employees that work there.
Different levels of Knowledge: Due to how quickly social media outlets have changed the way we communicate, people forget that it is still a new communication outlet that may not be fully understood. Young professionals that grew up with Facebook and Instagram are going to have a different understanding of it than a seasoned sales professional that just now entered the world of Facebook. This means different levels of understanding, experience, and common sense amongst employees. Implementing a policy with social media guidelines will get everyone on the same page and will help employees that are not as familiar with social media to better understand the implications of their actions.
Nothing is private on social media: Even if your profile is private there are still ways for that information to become public. A simple screenshot can spread your post across the web like wildfire. If an employee posts something that is trending on social media that is racist, sexist or a religious slur, the backlash can be felt by the company they work for. Once people find out where the person is employed, the company most times falls under fire for hiring that employee. This is a horrible situation for both the company and individual that both parties would like to avoid. Taking the time to educate your staff on the dangers of social media use, and giving them a policy to follow, will help prevent future scandals.
Below is a link to an article that gives examples of companies with strong social media policies. The article provides a link to each company’s social media policy that they provide to their employees. If you are interested in implementing a social media policy for your organization, these are great examples to get ideas from.
“Access to Social Media Usernames and Passwords.” N.p., 6 July 16. Web. 11 Aug. 16.
“5 Terrific Examples of Company Social Media Policies.” HireRabbit Social Recruiting Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.
“Workplace Fairness.” Social Networking & Computer Privacy –. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.
Amanda is receiving her BA in public relations, from the S.I. Newhouse School of public communications at Syracuse University. She started as a business development specialist in 2014 and transitioned as a content writer in 2016. Feel free to reach out to her by email and LinkedIn.