Why You Need a Social Media Policy for Your Employees
We live in a connected world, more than ever before. The lines between work and play, employees and companies, and who represents your business are blurred now. It's especially tough to separate things when something goes wrong. And on social media, things can get really ugly really fast. But do you need to monitor your employees on their social channels? Is that the right thing to do? I don't advocate going that far, but you DO need to have a social media policy today that protects you AND your business. Here's why:
1. Harmful Posts
Everyone is entitled to their opinions and everyone is allowed to post what they want on their own social media channels. And you don't have to agree with everything your employee highlights on their accounts. BUT - if something your employee posts goes viral, or is in some way harmful or insulting, that can come back to bite you and your business. So what can you do? You have to handle that BEFORE it happens by including language in your employee handbook. Something along the lines of: "If something you post on social media is inappropriate or harmful to the company, employee may be suspended or terminated." This protects YOUR reputation and your brand. There have been too many instances where employees have posted something insulting or offensive and the blowback on their employer has been swift and - in some cases - devastating. Protect yourself!
2. Proper Representation
You need to be VERY clear that employees who are not directly responsible for your company's social media accounts are not allowed to post about your business without permission. Period. Employees can often think they are helping your business by posting on their accounts, but in most cases they aren't going to attract any clients that way. And they may do more harm than good. Again, you need to protect your reputation and your brand by closely guarding what is officially posted on social media channels. You also do not want them to post about your clients, the location of homes/projects that you're working on, any photos from those job sites, or anything else that might giveaway info that you don't want to disclose.
3. Tech Talk
If you provide a phone and/or a computer to your employees, be very clear about the fact that they should not post to their personal social accounts when using your equipment. This is again to mark a clearer line between their personal and professional time. And it keeps you out of the fray if something blows up on their accounts. Really, your employees shouldn't be on social media during the workday unless they're on a break, or they work on your social accounts.
4. Monitoring Policy
I don't recommend that you monitor your employees' social media accounts. Not only is it an invasion of privacy, but many states have privacy laws that limit what employers can do with their employees' accounts. And it is a colossal time waster! The best way to handle this is to go over the social media policy very carefully with your employee, and let them know that you really will terminate them if the issue warrants it. But this does bring up another point - remember that you are NOT your employee's friend. You are their employer. So "friending" them on social media is not a great idea. You can explain that you love working with them, but that you keep your social accounts separate, too.
5. What About YOU?
Speaking of YOUR social media accounts, remember that your personal opinions and posts can ALSO hurt your business. Yes, of course you're entitled to speak up about what you feel passionately about - as long as you know that it could also adversely impact your company. Often it's better to stay above the controversial topics and stick to business on your brand's social media accounts. And your employees will appreciate it if you practice what you preach.
It is SO important to have a comprehensive employee handbook that covers all the policies and expectations that you have for them. Having this ready to go when a new hire walks in the door can help you avoid SO many problems in the future. And to help things along, download my FREE Guide to Onboarding a New Hire. It will help you find the right talent to help your business grow and succeed!