Should Your Employee Handbook Include a Social Media Policy?

Your employees are undoubtedly on social media and what they post could be harming your brand
Should Your Employee Handbook Include a Social Media Policy?

Interested in Business & Technology ?

Get Business & Technology articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Business & Technology + Get Alerts

Your company is probably active on social media — but even if it isn’t, your employees probably are, and what they say ultimately reflects on your brand. You have probably read some of the headlines about flight attendants who go on Twitter rampages, waiters who vent about customers on Facebook, and similar debacles. All of these outpourings tarnish the name of the company, and such instances can lead to testiness or distrust among customers.

As such, forming a social media policy is often prudent. Your social media policy can explain what is and is not acceptable to post on a personal profile, with regard to the company itself — what can and cannot be said about customers, what can and cannot be said about the brand itself, what information is proprietary, and so on.

Of course, you cannot censor your employees or prevent them from saying what they want to say but if you lay out the expectations, you minimize your own risk, and you give yourself grounds to dismiss any employees who embarrass the brand on social media channels.

And the best place to include a social media policy is in the employee handbook, along with any other rules or expectations for your employees.

What to include

Of course, all this begs the question: What exactly should your social media policy say? Here are some stipulations to consider:

  • Warnings about sharing confidential information. Prohibit employees from giving away company secrets. Explain what qualifies as proprietary information. Provide a reminder of the confidentiality agreements that your employees have signed, if applicable.
  • A reminder that employees are representatives of the company. Make it clear that you view employee social media comments as reflections on the company itself. Encourage your team members to clearly identify themselves as such, any time they make public comments about the business.
  • A reminder that online, everything is permanent. Make sure your employees remember that you cannot take back the things you write online.
  • Prohibitions against flame wars. The last thing you want is for an employee to get into a big, nasty argument with someone over negative comments made about your company. That will only make your brand look worse.
  • Guidelines about discussing customers. What can and can’t your employees post about the customers they interact with? Offer some clear direction.
  • Connections with your company code of conduct. Do you have a document outlining the behavioral expectations you have for your employees? Chances are, most of these rules will apply just as well on social media. Make this connection plain.
  • Stipulations about using the company name within a user name. You may not want employees using the company name in their online usernames at all; simply state it, if this is the case.

A final point: Though it may be hard to believe, some of your employees may not have that much experience using social media. It may be beneficial to invest in some social media training for your team, ensuring that everyone is able to abide by the rules you set out in your employee handbook.

About the Author
Amanda E. Clark is the president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic Inc., a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California, and Dublin, Ireland.

Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects and often engages in content and social media marketing, drafts resumes, press releases, Web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at www.grammarchic.net.



Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.