The Smith Report - Operational Playbooks

Social Media & Your Employees – What’s Your Policy?

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Social Media & Your Employees – What’s Your Policy?

The WSJ published a report yesterday covering many aspects of social media and employees. So what is your policy on social media? Are your employees clear?

Your employees are now publishers, authors, bloggers, sharers, mavens, so how do you control the epidemic without alienating staff? What guidelines make sense?  Try this one pager out as a template and adjust it to make it relevant for your business and please feel free to give me feedback.

Policy Introduction
It is likely that your staff frequently participate in conversations across a variety of Social Media channels; and while this is normal, it is important to understand the significance of their comments. Comments are in the public domain and may end up in a newsfeed anywhere on the internet, reflecting the character of the company you work for. There is no way to draw a line between social and work life, so you should assume they are one and the same when using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. Specifically the following guidelines for imaginary Company X should prove useful:

Protect Confidential Information
It is essential that all confidential and proprietary information is protected. Any information that we would not publicly disclose should not be disclosed or discussed on the Web. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Non-public or unreleased financial, operational or business performance data
  • Litigation and other legal matters
  • Company strategies and forecasts
  • Brand and trade secrets
  • Proprietary research findings
  • Product or campaign benchmarks
  • Unreleased advertising
  • Internal processes and methodologies
  • Colleagues’ and clients’ personal information

Clients, partners or suppliers should not be cited or obviously referenced without their approval. Externally, never identify a client, partner or supplier by name without permission, and never discuss confidential details of a client engagement.

Be Respectful
You may not post any material that is obscene, defamatory, profane, libelous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful or embarrassing to any other person or entity. This includes, but is not limited to, comments regarding Company X employees, X partners and X competitors.

Respect copyright and fair use laws
For X’s protection as well as your own, it is critical that you show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use of copyrighted material owned by others, including X’s own copyrights and brands. You should never quote more than short excerpts of someone else’s work, although it is good general blogging practice to link to others’ work and this will only improve X’s Web Site.

Social Media is Your Responsibility
Remember that there are always consequences to what you publish. If you’re about to publish something that makes you even the slightest bit uncomfortable, review the suggestions above and think about why that is. If you’re still unsure feel free to discuss it with your manager. Ultimately, however, you have sole responsibility for what you post to your blog or publish in any form of online social media.

This will increasingly be a huge issue for companies but it’s not going away. Get ahead of the curve and define your guidelines and then get ready to tweak them regularly.

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About the Author

Ian founded The Portfolio Partnership (TPP) in 2010. TPP is an operational consultancy focused on scaling private businesses safely. He believes his resume of building 4 previous businesses from publishing, investment banking to software in Europe and the States gives him a unique set of skills and a sense of humor. He remains a competitive masters track & field athlete and in 2012 was ranked #2 indoors in the world for his age at 400m.

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