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Do you need a business social media policy?

Pretty much no one can escape social media in both our personal and working lives. It is said that over 50 million small businesses alone have an online presence and there is no doubt that being on the web is an effective touchpoint for keeping existing customers loyal and reaching out to potential new ones. But, with the gap between our work and everyday life narrowing – are you aware that employees (and even yourself!) may be negatively affecting the business by what they say or do?

So – the answer to the initial question is a resounding YES! 

A social media policy effectively “polices” your workforce; putting rules in place that prevents your company from being brought into disrepute especially if comments are made in your company’s name that – in the worst instance – may be breaking the law.

Reputation is everything

Not everyone realises that social media is covered by exactly the same regulations that prosecute libel or racial hatred when printed in newspapers or spoken in the street and the last thing you want is an ex-employee who has gained a criminal conviction for making an ill-judged comment and brought your company standing down by a peg or two.

Another problem is cyber bullying, which can result in a claim being made against your business for not carrying out a duty of care to the affected employee. At its very worst; online bullying has caused victims to take their own lives and this is not the kind of stain you want on your company record or conscience.

Friend or foe?

Many employees are still under the impression that things shared on social media are only seen by their employees “friends” but nothing could be further than the truth. Apart from a handful of family members and close buddies; the rest of their contact lists are just that – contacts and these people with no personal investment in your business may inadvertently share something that could quickly spread around the world. They say there is no bad publicity but the last thing you want is something abusive or defamatory in nature landing on your doorstep.

So what should a policy include? 

At the very least your company rules should include the following. 

  1. Ask your staff to keep business and pleasure separate.
  2. Confidential business information and contacts should not be disclosed.
  3. Nothing should be said that will undermine effectiveness at work (no complaints – not even in jest)
  4. Employees should not imply that their personal opinions are endorsed by the company

Do I need to get it professionally drawn up?

It is always sensible to have someone with legal training cast an eye over your social media policy to ensure you are adequately protected should a claim ever be made against the company. Advising how your employees should conduct themselves online will ultimately keep your business safe and ensure work talk is kept within the four walls of the home.

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