The recent high profile case of SKY Sports and Eric Bristow highlights the issues faced by employers when their employees’ activity on social media brings them, as an organisation, into disrepute. But it isn’t always thoughtless comments and damaged reputation. In 2009 a video of 2 Domino’s pizza employees ‘playing’ with food went viral, resulting in a reported drop in profits of 1-2% the following quarter.
While these are two extreme examples, it shows the issues employers can face and the need for organisations, no matter their size, to have a social media policy in place and enforce it. But what makes a good social media policy?
- Make the consequences of your employees’ actions online clear – Social media, as its name suggests, doesn’t happen in isolation. It is naïve to think that a post meant for just your friends, won’t reach a wider audience. Every post has the ability to go ‘viral’. Employees need to understand that they can be held responsible for the things they publish online – even if this is outside of the working environment or hours. Be clear about what is and isn’t acceptable. Disney for example, are reported to not allow their staff to post any images or videos to any social media site while in their uniform/costume.
- Designate a company spokesperson – Make sure everyone knows who is responsible for answering any queries online. This limits any unofficial/incorrect/inappropriate exchanges taking place. It is also best practice to keep passwords confidential and regularly change them. Stopping any disgruntled ex-employees causing havoc on your twitter account for example.
- It educates employees – Having a policy and housing it on the intranet/shared drive isn’t enough. You need to take as much time training and educating employees as you do on writing it. Ensure you cover the consequences of anyone who breaks the rules, whether it’s an official warning or termination.
While it won’t stop any rogue comments or posts totally, ensuring that all employees are aware of the existence of a policy and the consequences of any actions, will hopefully reduce the chances of any unwanted activity.