by Mary C. Long
Are your employees ever on social networks? Of course they are.
But you probably don't worry too much about THAT because what they do on their own time is their business, right?
Well . . . yes and no.
Yes, everyone is entitled to a personal life - but if employees list your firm as "employer" on social media profiles, their online activities could negatively impact your business - whether "social media" is part of their job description or not.
So even if you're certain your employees 'know how to behave' online, there are a few items you should really have in writing to protect BOTH of your interests.
Here are some things to consider if you have employees:
Do you want employees to list your company name in their personal Facebook, Twitter and other profiles? This can be dangerous.
You can't control what employees post on their personal pages and MANY post off-the-wall political and religious opinions and such. Talk about polarizing.
Freedom of speech exists, of course, and it's difficult to objectively quantify crazy, so best to make it clear to employees that attaching their views to your business in any way is a fireable offense (feel free to borrow this language):
XYZ Company understands that its employees hold diverse viewpoints, opinions and beliefs, but our company's view on all political, religious and other potentially controversial topics is nonexistent - we are a company and our focus is on our business.
As such, we do not wish our company name to be in any way associated with employees' personal beliefs, so we require that you do NOT list XYZ Company as your employer on ANY social networking platform, without express written consent.
The only exception to this rule is LinkedIn, as that platform is a professional networking site. And should you chose to list XYZ Company as your current employer on LinkedIn, we require the following disclaimer be attached to the end of your profile: "Please note, posts and views expressed on LinkedIn are my own, and are in no way endorsed by my employer."
Whew! Glad we got THAT out of the way. So now you're all set, right? Wrong.
Disclaimers be damned, one day at least one employee (likely more) will either:
And if someone is motivated enough to find out where your employee works, you can be pretty sure they're going to follow it up with a complaint.
Here's what you'll need:
A "get out jail free card" for your employee. Let them know that you know mistakes happen and there's life after a social faux pas, BUT also be clear that you're running a business, not an elementary school. Everybody gets one chance, that's it.* If the employee doesn't learn a hard lesson about what is/isn't appropriate online after one embarrassing incident, they won't learn after two or three either - and you can't devote valuable operating hours to handling silliness.
Guidelines for how to handle the aftermath. Your employee will be feeling down and possibly violated (by the person they're battling with, not you) and will seek to remedy the situation via various outlets. Unfortunately, unless they've been trained in online strategies, nine out of ten times they will handle next steps poorly and make the situation worse.
The only appropriate response in ALL instances is this: Ignore, block, report.
Your employee should NOT engage his/her tormenter further IN ANY WAY. The troll got the last word, deal with it and move on. If you feed trolls online they multiply - and quickly.
Ignore the instigator, block them in every way you can and report them to the requisite social platform. Also, print out copies of the harassment and escalate to the authorities if it continues, but do NOT threaten a troll with legal action as that only increases the abuse.
And finally, you should strongly consider a social sabotage audit for your business - and follow it up with social media training for your employees. Fortunately, we offer both (and we know what we're doing!)
Socially savvy employees are great assets to have online - on ALL platforms. This post focuses on protecting your business from social sabotage, but the flip-side is so much sweeter.
Contact us to learn more!
*We'll be detailing exceptions to this "one time get out of jail card" rule and ways to stay safe on Facebook and other platforms in a later post.
Image from Dustin Gaffke.