Most people are now connected to at least one social media account, whether for personal or professional use. The laws applicable to social media, however, are just forming. Many large companies have created policies of their own, to encourage and also monitor social media posts that might impact the company. Creating a social media policy for your employees can encourage positive uses of social media, while creating boundaries that all parties are aware of.
When you begin to develop a social media policy, it will be helpful to get the input of several different people. A human resources professional can give guidance regarding potential employment issues, your CEO can provide input as to how the company would like to utilize social media, and individuals with knowledge of the social media networks can ensure the policy is relevant. A lawyer can also add perspective to ensure that employment laws are not violated.
Social media can be a powerful tool for companies. Taking an encouraging and friendly approach to social media use can be helpful to both your company and your employees.
There are several potential issues to think about when creating social media policies:
- Consider whether your company wants to promote a healthy use of social media among employees or merely monitor for misuse.
- Be mindful of employment disputes that may arise from comments or content posted through social media, including pictures and other media. Many social media legal disputes revolve around employee terminations.
- Ownership over postings and accounts is also a frequent issue, particularly where employees use a seemingly personal account to post content on behalf of or in promotion of the company.
When creating your social media policy, you should first consider the relationship and presence your company would like to have in various forms of social media. This will help guide you and create a policy that works with your company’s goals. Additionally, consider the following points:
- Remind employees that private and confidential information should not be disclosed. For example, HIPAA, trade secret, and intellectual property policies apply to personal online accounts.
- Give examples of things that employees should not post. Cover topics such as inappropriate behavior, substance abuse, or offensive comments that could be attributed to the corporation.
- Consider all existing social media networks and formats, including video and photos.
- Be flexible to accommodate new forms of social media.
- Define ownership of social media accounts and posts.
- Establish a means to monitor or report violations of the policy
- Establish a way to respond and approach negative comments or posts.
- Be specific regarding what is prohibited, what the penalties are, and how posts will be reviewed.
Many examples of social media policies exist online. While it may not be necessary to consult an attorney when creating your policy, it would be a good idea to have an attorney experienced in business law review the policy. A contract attorney can help ensure you have followed the fast evolving law surrounding social media and can provide suggestions that you may have overlooked.