Using Social Media in the Workplace for Employees
Social media policies and guidelines don’t have to be complicated. With the average American spending six to twelve hours a month on Facebook, social media is an essential part of millions of Americans daily lives. Due to the growing popularity in using social media, human resource professionals and companies are becoming more aware of the importance of a solid social media policy that provides guidelines and structure to new and current employees.
While important, your company social media policy doesn’t have to be a twenty-page novel to be effective. As part of your employee handbook, all policies, including your businesses social media policy, should be written not only to inform your audience, protect the company from liability, but also as a marketing document that is short, to the point, and interesting to the audience in which is was created for. Providing an employee handbook and policy manual which does all these things, can be extremely hard to accomplish especially for someone with limited knowledge on the interworkings of online social platforms.
Employee Social Media Policy Myths
One of the greatest myths surrounding social media policies is that companies need to create a separate social media policy to communicate to their employees about proper procedure surrounding social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, as well as the thousands of other social and community sites that exist. Often times, your social media policy is already in place within your company’s policy and procedure manual. It may just needs a few nips and tucks.
Make it Easy for your Company Employees to Find your Social Media Policy
To make communication clear and direct to your intended employee audience, it is important to display your policy in an area that is easy to find, read, and understand within your employee handbook and policy manual. Most often, social media polices are placed in one or mentioned in one or all of four areas of the employee handbook and policy and procedure manuals:
- Internet Usage
- Social Media
- Employee Code of Ethics
It’s pretty self-explanatory why your employee social media policy might be included in any of these four suggested areas. Social media postings are a form of written, readable, or viewable communication that is posted on the Internet. One of the most common concerns when I speak with companies about social media is employee’s actions and a company’s control surrounding what their employee’s write and when they do it. As a business, we should be concerned about how our employees are using social media for personal use as well as business purposes. Many companies are unknowingly using social media as a form of a background check resulting in Social Media Discrimination. Prior to writing your social media policy, I encourage you to research and learn about how your employees, customers, and competition are using social media in their daily lives. This doesn’t have to be along and drawn out process.
Use Existing Social Media Policy Guidelines or Outside Help
Research should always be ongoing so that your leadership team, Marketing, Human Resources, or even Legal can respond to situations quickly if a crisis arises. Proper monitoring and research will give you and your company a better idea of how to incorporate social media into your company strategy without reinventing the wheel or spending time in areas that are un-necessary. Companies can certainly conduct research themselves into these areas or hire a company or subject-matter expert or consultant to assist them in learning or understanding the research and monitoring process. My personal recommendation is to bring in an outside social media consultant or firm who can train your team assist on ways to monitor and respond to online mentions throughout the World Wide Web.
Companies can certainly conduct these online searches in house. Like any project that involves an outside agency or third party, it is important to be very thorough when interviewing someone to assist you in such an important project. While blogs, forums chats have been around for twenty years; the rise in popularity of social media has created a extremely large and lucrative business industry. Be sure to ask questions, visit the company and consultants’ own social profiles and ask for professional references before signing a contract.
This is Part 1 of a new series on Social Media Polices and Policy. Check out Part 2 of the Social Media Policies Series, where I outlined paid and free social media monitoring tools. Consider downloading the Social Media Policy e-book which provides more insights as well as policy examples.
Photo Credit Flickr.
Article by Jessica Miller-Merrell
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