Social Media Policy Management
Forbes magazine recently published an article discussing a new and growing trend in our high-tech world: the concept of work-life balance is being replaced by work-life fusion. What exactly does this mean? It reflects a shift in the values and the lifestyles of the millennial generation. Because today’s generation is highly connected, values flexibility, and tends to be comprised of households in which both adult parties work full time, many non-traditional approaches to the work-life equation are being taken. Working from home, working on the go, freelancing, etc. are all skyrocketing in popularity.
Nowhere is this new concept of work-life fusion more clearly seen than in the world of social media—where entertainment, socialization, marketing, opinion, brands, personalities, and discussion blend together in a unique, never before seen manner. Social media marketing can be managed remotely, and operates on a non-traditional schedule (the periods of highest activity on social media tend to be during lunchtime and in the evening, for example.) Social media is, for many of us, a sort of crossroads in which all aspects of our lives converge—and the personal and professional can sometimes become blurred.
For this reason, many companies have found it necessary to create specifically elaborated social media policies for their employees. Employees are, after all, the increasingly visible face of the company. The goal of these policies is certainly not to limit employees’ freedom of expression. Instead, company social media policies should exist as guidelines to help employees fully enjoy social media use while also keeping in mind a few basic responsibilities to the company.
Though every social media policy will vary depending on the unique needs of your company, there are a few basic issues that every social media policy should address. They include:
- How should employees associate themselves with the company? Nearly all institutions short of the CIA allow their employees to freely discuss who they work for—however, you may wish to require that in posts related to your company, your employees make it clear that their opinions are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the institution.
- Most policies prohibit the spreading of harmfully offensive content (i.e. racial/sexual/homophobic hate speech, for example.)
- Most policies also require that employees attribute copyrights where they are due.
- You should clearly prohibit the disclosure of potentially sensitive information (i.e. financial, operational, legal, etc.) This would include the disclosure of any information (sensitive or otherwise) regarding your customers, clients, investors, etc. Finally, it’s also a good idea to prohibit the spreading of inaccurate and/or potentially misleading content relating to the company.
- How will policy violations be dealt with?
- You should also offer a separate set of specific guidelines for employees who are given access to the company’s own social media sites. This would offer guidelines not only on the code of conduct (which may be similar to the bullets listed above, though perhaps a bit stricter,) but also on the company’s social media strategy, and what types of content are preferable.