Why your company needs a clear Social Media Policy for employees

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SMPolicyEvery organization is made of people. That’s both good and bad. People make the company what it is, and that’s good. People also have opinions – which is usually good, but can become bad if they’re not representative of your brand and organization.

You can control access to the official corporate Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and LinkedIn accounts, but what happens when employees tag, retweet and link to those pages from their own accounts? That’s where a clear and comprehensive Social Media Policy (SMP) comes into play.

The SMP needs to clearly state what is acceptable and unacceptable for tweets and posts that are linked or tagged to the corporate identities. In other words, you should have language in the policy that clearly states that anything that goes against company policies (like disorderly conduct, HR violations, etc.) should never be linked or tagged to a corporate identity. Ever. For any reason at all.

The policy should also detail what rights and responsibilities an employee has if they choose to affiliate their personal accounts with the company via logos, images, re-tweet streams, etc. If you believe you have control over any account that has your company logo on it – for example – you need to state that very clearly and directly to avoid problems later on.

Of course, if your firm is particularly conservative in these matters, you may simply have a blanket policy that says that only the corporate identities can have anything to do with the company on Social Media. That’s usually a very bad thing to do, as it will severely limit your ability to take advantage of a lot of opportunities that leveraging employees can bring to the table. However, if that is indeed the way you want to operate, every employee needs to know it as soon as possible to avoid confusion, embarrassment and bad blood.

Finally, don’t make the mistake of believing your current employment agreements have you covered. If those agreements haven’t been updated in 3-5 years, you need to revisit them and ensure that the sections on intellectual property and corporate ownership of resources have been updated to operate in the digital age.

Photo Credit: Mr. Norris

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