A Social Media Policy
Why you need one now
The fact that you are reading this article online is a good indicator that you are internet savvy. Have you given much thought to the huge growth in social media and how it can affect your business?
If you do not have a social media policy, you are leaving your business open to, time wasting by staff, breaches of privacy, cyber bullying, brand damage, disciplinary difficulties, data ownership disputes and more.
How can I develop a social media policy?
Depending on the size and unity of your business you should pick a team of relevant employees to help develop a customised social media policy. If you run a small enterprise, then you can draw up the policy yourself or get assistance from experienced professionals. You should make a distinction between work and private lives. It should protect you from the actions of employees (vicarious liability). Keep it flexible enough so that it can adapt to the changing social media landscape.
What should I include in a social media policy?
These are some of the main points to include in your policy. Each policy is customised to reflect the individual needs of each business. Your business is unique. You should take the time and trouble to develop a social media policy which reflects this.
A general ban on downloading software will help control the spread of viruses
Define what constitutes unacceptable behaviour and relate it to each of the methods of electronic communication, Email, internet, Forums, smart phones, tablets, computers, social networking sites, blogs.
Make sure that your social media policy reflects and endorses your bullying and harassment policy.
Your employees should be aware of possible breaches of data protection legislation from mentioning sensitive and confidential information online.
If you intend checking up on existing staff's use of social media you should include this in the policy and make staff aware of it. Most surveys show that staff would temper their business related comments if they knew that management could monitor them.
This is the creative material belonging to the company. You should clearly identify the intellectual property of the business, eg logo, design, brand.
Let candidates know that you have a policy of monitoring social media sites and why. Retain copies of data gathered. If your decision not to hire is affected by something you discover online, make sure that it does not breach anti discrimination legislation
How does the use of social media affect productivity? It can have a positive effect if it increases brand awareness. It can have a negative effect if it is merely a time wasting exercise.
When disciplining an employee in connection with their use of social media, make sure that you follow closely you disciplinary procedures. Make sure that the punishment is proportionate to the offence. You have a right to protect the reputation of your company and to carry out your duty of care towards your other employees. At all times you must follow fair process.
If you have a bring your own device policy, your social media policy should cover this. Privacy settings, security, to reduce the risk of unauthorised access must be put in place and reviewed regularly.
Training and communication
You should offer training and communicate regularly with your employees in relation to use of social media. If you take a positive view of the use of social media, which is then communicated to all staff then you can build a strong team of individuals dedicated to building a great brand presence online.
Where can I get more information and assistance?
See recent case on privacy at work
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