Need For a Social Media Policy For Employees

By on February 23, 2011

It seems as though most businesses first discover social media when their employees are abusing it during office hours. It’s not ideal, but it has led to a phenomenon known as the social media policy.

social media business network

Courtesy of ereleases.com

This policy is drafted by businesses to limit, define or restrict the use of social media during the day. The main goal of a good social media policy is to prevent hours of valuable work time being lost to social media traps like Farmville, Twitter Search or watching a particularly funny Youtube channel.

These social media policies however, signaled that social media was growing in importance and made many ‘nay-sayers’ sit up and rethink their take of sites like Facebook and Twitter.

All businesses need social media policies now, and for good reason! Whether it’s maintaining your blog on cats at work, or ranting about your boss one of the many micro-blogging platforms out there – only your social media policy will reveal what you can or can’t do whilst connected to the internet. Here are the basics of what to include in your social media policy.

Clearly Define Social Media and List All Relevant Sites

It’s a good idea to define what social media is and how it relates to your business. List each site that is relevant, and state clearly what can and can’t be said about your business – or people within your business – on these platforms, on any account. That means if your secretary says something mean about someone in the office on Facebook – even if it’s her personal account – that’s grounds to be fired.

Make Each Employee Sign a Statement Agreeing To The Policy

Limiting what your employees say might not be the most ideal situation for them – but it will prevent bad press on your business being splattered all over the internet. It’s very easy to ruin the reputation of a business online. Something as small as a personal feud between two people, can actively hurt your sales. Make your employees read and sign your social media policy – so that they understand what the rules are.

Come Up With a Fair and Progressive Plan

Many companies will outright ban social media and be done with it. But that’s not what you should do if you have any hopes of remaining relevant as a business online.

Hopefully you already do social media marketing, so when you think of your employees as valuable parts of your business, you should see an opportunity there. By allowing your employees access to social media during business hours you promote sharing and communication.

Encourage them to say nice things about your business on social media. Don’t cut them off from the world when they’re at work. As long as their work gets done, you should be satisfied. It’s like telling a secretary 50 years ago that she can’t use the telephone for personal calls!

Do some research and shop around for a policy that you think is fair, and will work for your business. Otherwise, why not get some of your employees involved? After all, we do live in the age of sharing information and ideas.

Do you have a social media policy at work?
What one rule do you have to abide by, that you wish you could change?

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the About.com Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.
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