Social media is still very new to many organisations but as with all things in business there are inherent risks. However, some risks can be lessened, simply by implementing a social media policy applicable to all employees in the business.
1. Make it practical and easy to understand
As with many staff policies it can be easy to overcomplicate. Make sure it covers all the key areas of the business and all stakeholder communication.
2. Apply the policy to both the corporate accounts and employees personal accounts
Every member of staff should be fully aware of what their responsibilities are to the company when using social media, whether this is via corporate accounts as well as use of their personal accounts. Many people have been caught out through inappropriate use of their personal account that has reflected badly on the organisation. An example of such was the NHS Chief Executive who tweeted on his personal account about a new boat, when NHS staff were facing job losses and salary cuts. A clear policy would have ensured he was fully aware that his personal account was subject to the same standards as the corporate one.
3. Include exclusion policy
Define quite clearly what is on and off limits when using social media. This will ensure employees have full clarity about what is acceptable when using Twitter, Facebook etc and what is not. Even though employee contracts will make reference to confidential information it should also be included in the social media policy.
4. Escalation policy
Quite often employees from levels of the organisation will be involved in social media so a detailed escalation policy should be in place so that all employees know who to escalate specific questions to within the organisation.
5. Rules on setting up accounts in the name of the organisation
It is very easy to set up an account in any name, whether it is a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn account. In order to ensure the organisation has complete control over any corporate accounts there should be clear rules as to who can set up accounts in the name of the organisation. This should also include sign off at Director level to ensure the management is fully aware of what is happening through the use of social media and who has responsibility for managing the company’s accounts.
6. Incorporate the policy into employee contracts
Finally and probably the most important make sure that you incorporate your social media policy into all employment contracts. By doing this if there are any issues as a result of misuse of social media then the usual sanctions can be applied.
James Leavesley MBA
CEO CrowdControlHQ, Member Institute of Directors