Why is a company social media policy necessary?
The use of social media has grown exponentially in the last few years, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Accordingly, social media has become a double-edged sword that can either help a company grow through its corporate social media account or cause serious harm to the image of the company, its brand reputation and its business.
In addition to the direct impact of social media channels used by the company itself, the personal use of social media by employees can have a major impact on the public image of the company, namely because employees might be viewed as a more authentic source of information in comparison to social media channels run by the company.
In order to protect their image, companies have started to implement social media policies in addition to their pre-existing IT policies such as email and internet use policies. It is important that employees read and understand their company's social media policy to ensure compliance and avoid disciplinary action.
This article will explore some of the points that can be included in a social media policy in order to provide guidelines to the company's social media team or employees who engage with social media through their own personal accounts.
Social media guidelines
A great social media policy should include clear guidelines on the responsible use of social media. Adding clear guidelines can help reduce employees' personal social media use which can have a negative impact on the company's image. Under social media guidelines employees are encouraged to disclose their affiliation with the business of their personal social media accounts.
Employees can also be encouraged to add a note in their social media profiles that the opinions and posts they make on social media are their own personal opinions and that they do not represent the views of the company.
The company's social media policy should also include provisions that deter employees from intentionally or inadvertently posing information on social platforms and social media sites that relate to the company's trade secrets, intellectual property or confidential company information.
Social media guidelines can also include a mechanism for reporting online content that could damage the reputation of the company. Finally, the social media guidelines can also encourage employees to discuss their posts with the designated officer within the company if they are not sure if the post they want to share will harm the company or not.
Clear social media guidelines can limit the company's liability for content shared by its employees on social media platforms. The social media team of a company will usually be responsible for helping employees understand these guidelines and engage effectively on social channels.
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Business use of social media
If a company has a social media presence or it encourages employees to promote the company through their social media then the social media policy should include a clause on the business use of social media.
This clause would include the process required to gain approval before posting or engaging on social platforms. It would also include who to direct any social media queries or requests for comments on a topic relating to the business of the company. This clause ensures that the company can control the content that is being posted on its behalf and ensures that it does not negatively impact the image of the company.
The business use of social media clause also needs to be aligned with how a business might work with social media influencers and how employees might take part in social networking or social selling as part of their roles.
Prohibited uses of social media
The social media policy of a company should also include a clause on the prohibited uses of social media. Similar to the social media guidelines, the prohibited use clause could limit the distribution of negative content by limiting the use of social media by employees.
Some of the prohibited uses include expressing opinions on behalf of the company, sharing content that could damage the reputation of the company and sharing content about sensitive topics such as the performance of the company.
Additionally, the prohibited uses clause could prohibit the disclosure of business contacts in addition to its prohibition under UK GDPR rules. If an employee uses social media in a prohibited manner they could be subject to disciplinary action under the company's disciplinary procedures.
The bottom line
In conclusion, a company social media policy protects the image of a company by regulating its employees' use of social media at work in both a professional and personal capacity.
This regulation is done through social media guidelines and prohibitions on the use of social media in addition to the procedure and potential approval process for business use of social media. It could also be done by monitoring the use of social media by employees and the prohibition or limitation of social media use during working hours.
A social media policy can be either included in a company staff handbook or in a separate company social media policy template. Regardless of where the policy is included, it must be kept up-to-date as the social media landscape is constantly evolving as behaviours in online communities evolve. Social media policy examples and resources are an abundant resource, but it is important that your policy be tailored to your business.
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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal or financial advice on which you should rely.