How to build and enforce an effective social media policy.
What employees post on social media could also harm your business. 15% of people surveyed have previously shared something negative about their work online. A further 5% would do so in the future.
Employees may also share confidential or private information on social media. All of this is off-putting to clients and potential employees.
You can limit risk to your business by creating and enforcing an effective social media policy.
Writing your Social Media Policy
To make the most of your social media policy, follow the advice below.
Specify Acceptable Social Media Hours
With social media being a major part of how we communicate, a blanket ban on sites is not going to work. Survey respondents stated that if social media was banned, over half (56.4%) would take to their smartphones to work round the policy.
In addition to being ineffective, a blanket ban would be likely to lower morale, as employees would feel less trusted.
Instead, give guidance on when it’s okay to use social media. Allow access during lunch and think about giving a social media ‘allowance’ – an amount of time employees can use to look at platforms during the day.
Social media can be a useful tool for work, aiding research and client relations. In your social media policy include scenarios where use is acceptable, so your employees know they can still utilize the benefits of the platforms.
Show Employees What is Acceptable to Post
Define what employees can post in relation to your business. Cover both negative posts and confidential information. Give clear definitions about what confidential information is and advising employees to err on the side of caution if they are unsure.
To limit negative social media posts, set out procedures for expressing and dealing with grievances in your social media policy. By allowing your employees a way to have their voices heard they are less likely to take to the internet to vent.
Ask your Workers
Imposing restrictions on your staff from the top down can come across as hierarchical and will likely invoke a negative response. Protecting your business is important, but it’s important to strike a balance with the freedoms of your workers.
Talk with your employees about what is realistic in terms of social media usage – maybe there are things they use the platforms for that you aren’t aware of.
A social media policy is for your entire workforce and therefore should be clear and accessible. Avoid technical jargon and vague terms. Your social media policy needs to leave no room for interpretation, which may lead to confusion is down the line.
Share your Policy
Having a social media policy in place is important but if it just sits on a shelf in your HR office it won’t work. You need to be actively sharing and referencing the document regularly in the workplace.
Make sure the policy is explained to new starters as part of their induction and give them a soft and hard copy, so they have it in the future. Hold annual sessions to review the document with staff, checking they still understand it.
Your policy should never be set in stone. Social media develops all the time, and additions and refinements will need to be made.
Talk About the Positives
Although social media policies are often about restricting behavior, they can be about empowerment too. Use your social media policy to let employees know how to engage with your company positively online.
Give employees your business’s Twitter handle and Facebook page so they can interact with you on those platforms and share positive experiences they’ve had with your company, such as staff socials and work anniversaries.
How to Enforce your Social Media Policies
When you have written and shared your social media policy, it can be difficult to police what your employees are doing. Having a policy in place is no guarantee that it will be followed. 36% of workers have said that they don’t pay attention to the restrictions they impose.
One of the most effective ways to make the most of your social media policy is to ensure awareness of it is high. 61.2% of workers said that they were unaware of a social media policy in their company. Simply setting out what is and is not acceptable will help employees see where they may be overstepping the mark.
There are some things you can do in the workplace to enforce your social media policy. It is possible to monitor web usage for excessive time spent on social media, which will highlight any problem areas.
It will also help if they are clear ramifications of breaking the policy. Make the consequences of misuse of social media clear to your staff and they are likely to understand how it can affect a business.