Businesses and organizations are faced with unprecedented challenges and opportunities today. Before the advent of smartphone technology and social media, business owners would lock their offices or shops at the end of the day and go home. Now, it's as if each of your employees are walking around with a key to your business every day and all day -- right on their smartphone. You might lock up your physical location, but as virtual spokespeople for your organization, one post or candid video taken by an employee has the power to go "viral" and wreak serious damage to your business. Likewise, one post might bring great benefits.
Having a social media policy—and training employees to follow it—are critical practices for every organization. Even if your company is not using social media, you still need a policy because your employees are using it in their private lives and they need guidelines to protect your interests and your organization’s reputation. - Aliah D. Wright, Social Media 101: Get a Policy, SHRM
In this climate, business owners are making real plans for any scenario. Social Media legal contracts are now standard for most new hires, the lengthy contracts citing very specific do's and don'ts enforced by consequences such as immediate suspension, firing, or even legal action.
Corporations are growing more attuned to combatting online language that might be interpreted as insensitive or tone deaf to the LGBTQ community, gender, race, or disadvantaged communities. Employees are carefully taught to use sensitivity when communicating online.
Before creating a social media policy, employers should decide what they want to get out of social media, advises Eric Meyer, a partner in the labor employment law group of Dilworth Paxson LLP. He says companies’ social media policies should speak to every type of communication employees publish on the Internet—including comments on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, blogs, wikis, online discussion boards, Google Groups, Tumblr, and video- and photo-sharing sites such as YouTube and Flickr—because "any of that could impact the company." -
Aliah D. Wright, Social Media 101: Get a Policy, SHRM
If you haven't created a social media policy for your company, now is the time to do so. Free resources are available online for developing a policy. Free templates can be downloaded and edited with your organization's information.
Don't wait until it's too late to create a policy. Without a policy, you are handicapping yourself in a legal situation. While there are laws that enforce online libel, free speech laws will also be influential in any type of legal matter. Creating a policy that employees sign well in advance of any incident may speed up any necessary event.
In addition to a social media policy, an in-person workshop can help reinforce company standards for online engagement. Cote Media leads workshops nationwide and can tailor a workshop for your industry.