Risks Associated with Social Media Policies
Social media has become a huge part of modern life – Facebook now boasts over 2 billion active users worldwide. With the average person spending almost two hours on social media platforms every day, it’s almost inevitable that time spent on sites will spill over into the working day.
Employees are not always clear on when they are allowed to use social media at work, or if there are limits on what they can post. A recent survey of 2,000 UK workers found that 61.2% were either unaware of their employer’s social media policy or under the impression that none existed.
THE RISKS OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Two major risks may befall your business if you don’t have an effective social media policy. The first is that employees might share confidential information or personal grievances online.
Twitter research indicates how common this is, with negative hashtags such as #ihatemyjob, #worksucks and #ihatemyboss being tweeted a total of 8,186 times in 2017 – and this number is seeing a 4.36% increase year on year. Tweets like this can do substantial damage to your brand and recruitment efforts. Savvy prospective clients and employees will do social media research into your company, and a disgruntled employee who was able to vent on social media gives a negative impression.
Not having a social media policy can also harm productivity. The average employee spends 52 minutes a day procrastinating, with the majority of this time spent on social apps like Facebook and Twitter. Over the working year, this equates to 225 paid hours. These steps will help improve your company through the use of social media policies:
1. Write and enforce a policy
When creating a social media policy for your staff, start by outlining the purpose. What do you want to achieve? Why is it important? This will help you write it and help your employees understand why it has been developed. If a policy isn’t set, your employees won’t have a reason to stop procrastinating or posting inappropriate content.
2. Set usage boundaries
Use your policy to set boundaries for your staff. Define when social media usage is acceptable in the workplace. Avoid issuing a blanket ban on social media in the workplace, as this is unlikely to work with platforms being accessible on phones, tablets, and desktop computers – trying to prevent all access to social media may simply end up lowering employee morale.
3. Guidance of content
Social media strategies don’t just apply during office hours. Outline online behaviors that are inappropriate. Give clear definitions of what your company defines as confidential data so that your staff is well aware of what should not be appearing on their social media. Also, highlight the proper grievance process so that staff can express any problems they are having at work without taking issues to the internet.
It’s not enough to simply have a social media policy – you have to make sure it’s adhered to. You need to reiterate the policy to your staff on a regular basis and ensure they have soft and hard copies of the document to consult. Include within the policy the repercussions if the guidance is not followed – will they incur penalties or face disciplinary actions?
Your social media policy does not have to be all negative. Social media can be an empowering tool that allows great opportunities for positive expressions. Let your employees know how to interact with you across platforms, how they can hashtag company socials and where they can leave positive feedback.
Allow employees some input into your social media policy. There is no point in constructing a document if your employees find it unworkable or hard to understand. Allow them to contribute to the policy so that they understand it from the ground up and feel as though their voices have been heard, rather than having restrictions imposed on them.