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Creating a social media policy: 7 key questions to answer

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in Career Management,Employment Law,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Workplace Communication

Whether they’re shooting off their own tweets or following others, employees using Twitter—the fastest-growing social media site—are creating liability and PR risks with their 140-character rants, raves and company gossip.

Example: A high-profile public relations executive landed in Memphis and promptly posted on his Twitter account, “I would die if I had to live here.” The problem: Memphis is home to FedEx, one of the PR exec’s largest clients. Oops. Needless to say, FedEx reps were not amused.

The trend isn’t confined to Twitter, Facebook or other social media tools. Any kind of blog or video can spread your employees’ “youthful indiscretions” around the world in seconds.

Example 2: When two employees at a North Carolina Domino’s pizza delivery store were bored one evening, one filmed the other sticking a piece of cheese up his nose and then placing it on a sandwich soon to be delivered to a customer. They posted the video on YouTube. More than half a million hits later, Domino’s had a viral gross-out PR nightmare on its hands and the health department at its doorstep.

In an ideal world, both of these incidents would be covered by a policy reading, “For gosh sakes, people, use your heads!” But behavior is easier to legislate than common sense, which means crafting policies that rein in how employees may use technology on the job.
Craft a social media policy that works for your company! Our informative, insightful webinar — Employees Online: Social Media at Work — gives you practical answers to the social networking challenges you're dealing with... Learn more
Crafting the policy: The 7 key questions

A perfect social networking policy to cover these new media could be drafted using only a few words: “Be mature, be ethical, and think before you type.” Ultimately, you may decide that such brevity is what you want for your business. For the sake of completeness, though, here are the seven most important questions to ask yourself when drafting a social networking policy.

1. How far do you want to reach? Social networking presents two concerns for employers—how employees are spending their time at work, and how employees are portraying your company online when they are not at work. Any social networking policy must address both types of online use.

2. Do you want to permit social networking at work, at all? It is not realistic to ban all social networking at work. For one thing, you will lose the benefit of business-related networking. Further, a blanket ban is also hard to monitor and enforce.

3. If you prohibit social networking, how will you monitor it? Turning off Internet access, installing software to block certain sites or monitoring employees’ use and disciplining offenders are all possibilities, depending on how aggressive you want to be and how much time you want to spend watching what your employees do online.

You owe it to your employees to provide a safe workplace, and to protect their rights to free speech and free expression. But you’ve also got to protect your company’s reputation and trade secrets. Employees Online provides detailed advice on how to do both – effectively and legally.
Register Today!

4. If you permit employees to social network at work, do you want to limit it to work-related conduct, or permit limited personal use? How you answer this question depends on how you balance productivity versus marketing return.

5. Do you want employees to identify with your business when networking online? Employees should be made aware that if they post as an employee of your company, the company will hold them responsible for any negative portrayals. Or, you could simply require that employees not affiliate with your business and lose the networking and marketing potential Web 2.0 offers.

6. How do you define “appropriate business behavior"? Employees need to understand that what they post online is public, and they have no privacy rights in what they put out for the world to see. Anything in cyberspace can be used as grounds to discipline an employee, no matter whether the employee wrote it from work or outside of work.

7. How will social networking intersect with your broader harassment, technology and confidentiality policies? Employment policies do not work in a vacuum. Employees’ online presence—depending on what they are posting—can violate any number of other corporate policies. Drafting a social networking policy is an excellent opportunity to revisit, update and fine-tune other policies.
During Employees Online: Social Media at Work, you'll get answers to the most vexing issues, including:
  • The 5 reasons why you MUST put limits on employees’ blogs, Tweets and other social-media posts
  • When are employees' online postings considered free speech … and when are they libel? (A 5-question test will let you know)
  • Developing a workplace social media policy
  • How the National Labor Relations Act applies in the virtual world
  • Can you fire workers if they post embarrassing (but true) details about your company?
  • Internal AND external legal risks of social media
  • The 6 steps to safeguarding your organization against today’s online legal threats
And because this is a webinar, there is no limit to the number of attendees you can invite to sit in, including your HR team … top management … in-house AND outside counsel … and employees throughout the organization. Register now...

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