No matter how small your business is or how many employees you have, it’s essential that you develop a sound and legally compliant social media policy. We live in a time where people share absolutely everything on social media, and you don’t want your company to be caught up in an avoidable crisis because of a seemingly innocent tweet or Facebook post. Before disaster strikes, take steps to draft a legally compliant and smart social media policy.
Depending on your industry, there could already be regulations in place that dictate how you should handle social media in the workplace. For instance, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations prohibit healthcare workers from posting or sharing patient medical and health information on social media. Rather than having a mandate that prohibits employees from using social media in any way shape or form while on company time, it’s much better to draft and implement a smart social media policy that includes your company expectations.
Inform and Educate Your Employees
In addition to being legally compliant, your company social media policy should also inform and educate your employees regarding the proper use of social media. For instance, rather than make your employees squeamish about posting anything whatsoever about your business, make it clear that using social media is a great tool in building brand awareness and drawing your target audience. It’s fine to retweet and repost articles that are relevant (and appropriate) for your business, and it’s also okay to engage with people posting and tweeting about your company. It’s when there’s questionable material in a post that the employee should receive approval before sharing it with the rest of the world.
Time Is Money
A smart social media policy also clearly spells out whether your employees are allowed on social media while at work and how long they’re permitted to use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any other social media platforms. While you may not want to outright restrict social media at work, you do want to ensure your employees are remaining productive while on company time. Something else to consider for your policy is that you might want to specify which of your employees are allowed to share posts and tweets related to your company. Doing so ensures only the employees who properly respect and understand the power of social media are acting as representatives of your company.
Consider Monitoring Employee Social Media Activity
Even though you might not like the idea of keeping an eye on what your employees post about your company, doing so is an effective way to make sure everyone is remaining compliant with your smart social media policy. Monitoring can also help head off a potential scandal. If you do decide to use Vocus, Cision, Radian6 or any other social media monitoring program, make sure you inform your employees of your decision. One reason is for full disclosure, and another is so your employees are more likely to think twice (possibly even thrice) before posting anything that’s even slightly related to your business.
The way monitoring programs work is they create online searches targeted to specific keywords related to your company. Programs can also help you pinpoint problems that could trigger negative backlash in order that you can take preventative measures, if necessary.
Crime and Punishment
To have a thorough social media policy, you should make sure your team understands the consequences of violating the policy. One of the first things you should know is that laws regarding the actions you can take against employees who violate your company social media policy varies from state to state, so you’ll want to start there. Generally, you have the right to take disciplinary actions against non-compliant employees as long as the infringement was committed during working hours. You’re also legally permitted to take action if an employee’s actions put the company at legal risk, which includes sharing confidential information or violating Federal Trade Commission regulations. Know that you’re unlikely to have much in the way of grounds for disciplinary action if an employee takes to social media to complain about his or her pay…or how you behave as a boss.
Developing a sound and smart social media policy is something that might take an abundance of time and research, but all of that hard work can help you avoid a lawsuit, public shame or even a loss of business. For additional tools and articles on making all-star hires and building a better business, check out more of what Mighty Recruiter has to offer.