Social media at work
Posted by Jane on Nov 22, 2019
It’s a wonder anyone posts anything on social media given the potential backlash. You could casually mention your passion for avocados and someone will find a way to denounce you as a Marxist dupe/neoliberal attack dog/gullible new age fadmeister… Really. The vitriol levels are up, the sensitivity is off the scale. And that’s just people ranting on Twitter. In the workplace, the social media landscape between employer and workforce has shifted.
Way back, ‘in the beginning’, the biggest question was whether staff should access the internet at work or not. Initially, social media was treated the same way. A question of prohibit or control.
However, as social media has taken over the world (not as much of an exaggeration as it should be) so it’s potential value to businesses and employers has grown and now, employees are practically encouraged to maintain their social media presence.
In fact, employees are now expected to be on numerous platforms (or at a minimum, LinkedIn) and to be supporting the company brand. This is a little odd, because we were never expected to extol our employer’s virtues down the pub after work, but now that we socialise online, now it’s an expectation…? Anyway, while all the old distracting, anti-productivity internet activities still remain, a blanket ban no longer cuts it as a social media policy – not when you want your workers to be online ambassadors for the company brand. So, how to manage social media usage now?
Social media tips for employers
A clear social media policy – The obvious foundation is a clearly-worded, simple-as-possible policy, defining what you see as acceptable (and unacceptable) behaviour when on social at work; both for individual social media accounts and company accounts. You should also be clear about any restrictions, including what employees say about the organisation, customers and clients, colleagues, etc. Also about any time restrictions on workplace access. You’re looking for a fine line between individual freedom and behaviour that could amount to bullying, harassment, or otherwise bringing the company into disrepute. For a few big brand examples to get you started, try here.
Manage the company social media account(s) – Is your business on LinkedIn? On Facebook and Twitter? Chances are, those accounts are used by employees (you can’t post everything yourself) and in addition to the clear policy on what these accounts can and can’t be used for, you also need to track and manage who has access, for example, ensuring that an ex-employee’s password is deleted. This should be no less rigorous than the access protocols you have for any other computer system (accounts, payroll, etc.) – such protocols are there to protect your information, your social media rules should protect your reputation.
Create a fair disciplinary procedure – As a companion to any policy, you need a disciplinary procedure to deal with breaches fairly. If you have a disciplinary policy for offline behaviour, the same standards should apply to online. And for a standard disciplinary procedure suitable to most businesses, ACAS Code of Practice is hard to beat.
Although it can be difficult to monitor efficiently, social media use is increasingly critical for business success – in any sector – and if you want your employees to work with rather than against you, the above suggestions are important basic protections for your brand and reputation.
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