We live in an age where technology is an integral part of business, and part of that technology is using social media platforms to advertise and connect with consumers. In fact, it was found in 2019 and 2020 that a person spends over 2 hours a day on social media on average. There is ample opportunity for a business owner to use social media to help support your business. While social media does have the chance to help keep your business and reach a multitude of consumers, it also has the opportunity to be a risk to you, especially if you have employees.
Blurring the lines between personal and professional
In today's world, the separation between an employee's professional online presence and personal online presence is not as distinct as it may have been. This has created a need for business owners to implement a social media policy for their employees.
Creating clarity using a social media policy
Implementing a social media policy involves finding the right balance of your employees' right to do things as they choose outside of work and protecting your business. A successful social media policy creates two standards for employees to follow. One is about the posts an employee does under the company's accounts, and the other involves an employee's personal account. The policies need to make clear to employees the type of content that may be prohibited from both the company's accounts and employee's personal accounts, like talking bad about company's customers or company-affiliated posts related to current political situations or other hot button issues and make clear distinctions as to the type of posts that the policy applied to. Businesses cannot regulate private posts of employees when such posts are not related to a company or if the posts would violate portions of the National Labor Relations Act. One example is an employee speaking about unionizing or striking as those posts are protected under federal law, and businesses cannot prohibit such posts or punish employees for posting such materials.
Mitigating damage to your business' reputation
While there are many guidelines regarding how the policies must be written, the benefits of implementing one can help to mitigate damage to a business reputation due to posts either on the company's social media or an employee's social media. As has been evident by the various viral videos and posts that quickly spread across multiple platforms and the negative impacts they have on the people or businesses who are associated with them, one negative post or comment can have lasting effects on a business.
Ensuring your policy continues to protect you
In addition to making a clear policy, you need to review and update the policy regularly. The changes in different social media platforms and the features they offer may change your policies. Additionally, any changes to federal law may also affect your policies. If you have employees, it would be beneficial to consider adding a social media policy or reviewing your current one to ensure that you mitigate your risk as much as possible. However, once you have a policy, you must follow it and make sure you enforce it. Nothing increases your risk faster than having a policy and not following it or enforcing it.