When most employees get a break from their daily chores in the office, the chances are they spend a few minutes surfing social media. These breaks can be good for enabling workers to relieve tension, and they might even lead to free marketing for your brand.
However, this kind of behavior can be risky if people aren’t careful. All workers have certain responsibilities they need to remember whenever they engage online, but it’s hard to keep those responsibilities clear if there are no explicit policies in place.
It’s easy for employees’ private and workplace lives to run together, and make it difficult for employees to know for certain what’s appropriate to post on social media and what is not. Social media and the activities that take place in those sites are further-reaching than many employers realize.
According to research on small businesses, 39 percent of employees have at least one friend on Facebook that they work with. In addition, 22 percent will post information about a colleague, and 28 percent will post photos of their workplace and the people who operate there, even in areas where public photographs are not allowed.
Perhaps what is most shocking is the revelation that 69 percent of employers do not track their employees’ use of social media on work computers and devices. This undoubtedly means lost productivity and a potential for legal problems.
The statistics can be frightening, because the aftermath of an illegal social incident can be devastating for a company. If you haven’t taken responsibility for your employees’ social media activities, it may be time to write a social media policy for your workspace.
You’ll want to consider many elements when you compose your first draft, but here are a few of the most essential.
1. Make Employees Responsible for Their Actions
Insert a cause-and-effect clause into your policies that makes it clear who’s at fault for misuse of social media. If an employee posts something he or she shouldn’t have, the individual will need to face the consequences. Consult with legal counsel to determine when action should be taken against inappropriate social postings and suitable penalties for that.
2. Know Your Customer Base
A great deal of keeping your brand reputation intact on social media involves knowing how your customers respond to your business. Teach employees to think hard about their audience before posting any comments about the firm.
Before posting anything, they should ask: What might offend readers, and will this post compromise the integrity of the company? For example, if you’re a company whose audience is primarily teenagers, poking gentle fun at parents might be acceptable.
If your audience is between the ages of 30 and 60, however, such posts would considerably lower your likeability.
3. Exercise Good Judgment
Include a section in your policy guide that addresses the use of sound judgment in social posts. Remind employees to avoid comments that could be demeaning to or slur the company name. Employees are entitled to their opinions, but if those opinions make your firm look bad, the poster’s position with the business could be called into question.
4. Keep End Goals in Mind
Clearly state the goals for your company in your policies. Remind employees that online interactions that go against your company’s mission or belittle its goals will not be tolerated. To minimize potential confusion, provide examples of posts that could damage the overall goals for your business.
5. Recognize Successes and Failures
Point out examples of both successes and failures in past social communications. Carefully disassemble these examples to show why the content was positive or inappropriate. Using real-life examples makes it easier for employees to understand and identify the pros and cons of a given scenario.
6. Consult with Your Team
By getting your team involved in the drafting of social media policies, you’ll have more widespread acceptance of them once they’re out. Employees can provide input about what they feel is appropriate and discuss the importance of observing and maintaining the rules.
They are much more likely to take ownership of the policies after they have taken part in creating them.