Create a Social Media Policy to Protect Your Business and Employer Brand

January 12th, 2012 by

Nearly 64 percent of internet users in the United States visit social networking sites, according to data from eMarketer. Knowing that more than half of the country’s internet users participate on these sites, it is a safe bet to assume that some of your employees are also participating.  

Social media allows organizations to increase their brand awareness and interact on multiple levels with their customers. Although your company will experience several benefits when taking part in different networking sites, there are risks to be aware of as well.

As an employer, it is important to understand how your workforce’s interactions on the internet can affect your company and brand. Legal experts recommend drafting a policy that informs employees of appropriate uses of social media to help your company reduce its risk of unfavorable business situations, which can include but are not limited to:

  • A reveal of confidential or propriety information
  • The presence of negative comments about your company from employees
  •  A lawsuit regarding copyright infringement

Include the following must-have subjects in your company’s policy to reduce adverse effects from social media:

Guidelines

State that your company respects employees’ rights to use social networking sites. Inform them that you understand social media’s importance and their desire to express themselves. Let them know, however, that you have created guidelines to embrace the emerging technology and ensure that they use it responsibly. Make it clear to employees that your company’s policies regarding issues, such as equal employment opportunity and harassment, also apply to their use of social media at work.

Responsibility

Notify employees that their activity on social media sites should not be considered private. Although many networks allow their users to control their privacy settings, employees must be aware that others, including their friends, followers or connections, will view their content. They should also know that their actions on the internet are permanent, even if they make attempts to remove or delete information or conceal their identity. Explain to employees that they should use common sense and consider how their actions on social media can affect the company’s reputation and their own. Include language that says employees can be held legally liable for their online activities.

Respect

Protect your organization by encouraging employees who are upset, frustrated or angry to have private conversations with their managers or coworkers instead of posting critical comments on social media sites. Taking this step will help protect your employer brand. Employees must respect company information, whether it concerns coworkers or customers. Your policy should state that workers can not disclose confidential or propriety company information on the internet, and they will be disciplined if they do. Additionally, make employees aware of copyright and fair use rules. They need to know that copyright infringement and plagiarism laws also apply to the internet, so they should reference their sources and abide by copyright standards.

Data shows that some of your employees are most likely interacting with social media. Defend your brand and educate employees by drafting a comprehensive policy. For more information on using social media to promote business and avoid risks, or for additional help on drafting a policy, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: webtreats

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