We walk a fine line between our personal and professional lives, and though employees do not want to hear that they represent their companies even when they are off the clock, unfortunately that is the case. Let’s take a look at a public figure like Ben Roethlisberger, though he has not been convicted of a crime he represents the NFL and his team the Pittsburgh Steelers, and his conduct in their eyes reflects poorly on the organization so he will penalized for his actions. You do not have to be a public figure, celebrity, or politician to have your personal opinions, bad behavior, or an ill-conceived joke result in the loss of a job. Just ask the two ex-employees of Domino’s Pizza that thought it would be funny to post a prank video on Youtube or the Geico voice over actor that thought calling the Tea Party to voice his views would be a good idea.
When employees are interacting personally on social media sites, they are also representing their professional life. Creating a social media policy is not about limiting personal interactions but more about guiding employees in protecting their privacy, the privacy of their friends and family, and the privacy and reputation of their employer. There should be a general policy that is malleable enough to keep pace with the changing face of the internet and growing digital communication tools. All employees should have their privacy settings set properly on their social networking accounts. Employees should be advised to restrict photos and other very personal content from work friends and professional contacts, because even in their personal lives they are identified as employees of their company.
What a company does not want to do is limit employees so much so that you lose the benefits that can be obtained through social networking. Social media interactions can build brand awareness, enhance customer service and support, create sales opportunities, and generate revenue. As long as everyone understands that company guidelines hold true online as they do off ine social media sites can benefit both the employee and the employer.
Some areas to consider covering in your social media policy:
- Company Purpose
- Create Value
- Be Honest
- Be Responsible
- Stop and Think
- Be Accountable
- Respect others
- Opinions vs Facts
- Copyright and Creative Commons
- Protect Confidential and Proprietary Information
A few articles and resources to check out for inspiration in creating a social media policy