By now, almost every organization has adopted social media accounts into their plan for marketing and communications. Organizations have social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. These social media sites allows companies to engage with their clients directly, through instant messaging, comments, or likes and also allows them to advance their branding strategies. Having social media incorporated into an organization is crucial in many different ways. According to Pew Research Center, 74% of adults use social media. However, 73% of companies don’t have an official social media policy.
Due to many examples of PR disasters, (the problem), organizations have been crafting a social media policy for employees to sign(the solution). For example, a woman who previously worked at the HuffPost, was fired for being incredibly racist on her personal Twitter account. With her offensive comments, and post, the HuffPost believed firing her was the best option for the company because it did not agree or match with their core values. Having a social media policy for every organization would work to regulate speech on social media because it will inform employees to think before posting. It is instilled in us to never post inappropriate pictures, that you wouldn’t want a future employer to see, so why should that change after getting a job. Not only is landing the job important, but also keeping the job.
It is inevitable for an employee to tweet, post, like, or hashtag something offensive so having a social media policy should be mandatory for every organization. A social media policy can help an organization prevent from any of these offenses. Social Media Policy are currently being practiced, and I do not see a problem with them. Social media policy includes an employee personal account, and also the official organizational account. One easy example included in a social media policy is an organization should specify what sites an employee is allowed to use while at work. Though, in this day banning social media sites from a work computer would not be sufficient because they are useful tools for employees, so restricting any social media account is not wise.
The organizations social media policy should tie in with the social media company policies itself, for example, one popular one is acceptable use and code of conduct. I believe social media policy are used in many companies, but for their organization accounts, I am suggesting the social media policy addressing both official use and personal use of social media. Including personal accounts also within the policy would improve the situation.
Many could argue that it takes away our free speech, but the policy would not say what you can or cannot post, but be cautious. Because of the First Amendment right to speech, prohibiting an employee to speak freely is not acceptable but they could include in the policy, to not post on the companies time, or on the companies technology. Transparency and free speech don’t give employees free rein to share anything they want. My main suggesting is encouraging, teaching the core values of a company. Instilling the core values can go a long way for an employee to understand the respectful and professional ways to post on social media. If an employee breaks the policy, and faces consequences, the employee would not be blindsided but the actions due to the written restrictions.
One important role of a social media policy is to protect your organization’s sensitive information. To no surprise a company typically has social media policy prohibiting employees from posting confidential company information, client info, and trade secrets. It should also restrict employees from publicly discussing or speculating about company performance and unannounced business plans or acquisitions. Having a policy such as this is very common, and I suggest advancing on prohibiting this information. This should apply both to official and personal social media.
Having the employee’s personal account, and the organizational account follow the official social media use is in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations is easy for an employee to understand. This includes laws about copyright, fair use, financial disclosures, and defamation.To help regulate speech, the company’s social media policy should also prohibit posts, like plagiarized content, inappropriate jokes, and offensive or out of line comments, offensive images, or discriminatory comments. Creating social media policy in regards to the organizations account is easier to be specific because it is the company account, so prohibited behavior for a employees personal accounts may be more general. Encourage employees to use common sense and good judgment when posting public content. For example, IBM’s corporate social media policy prohibits employees from posting content that shows or implies that the employee is engaging in illegal behavior.
Your corporate social media policy should clearly lay out how you will monitor employee social media activity. Having a clear, concise policy will never leave your employees to confusion. Not being clear could lead to lawsuits, arguments for the company if the employee believes the restrictions or consequences are not fair. I also suggest making the social media policy public to the public eye, because the public can see the core values of the company and how what they believe is right to post. It could show to the outside world, ‘we do not condone this behavior or thoughts’. Every organization will handle monitoring and enforcement differently. But however the organization decides to manage it, thanks to the social media policy, the employees will know, be aware, and understand that they are responsible for what they post on social media, even outside of the office.
Lastly, since social media is always changing, and evolving regularly reviewing the policy is important because an employee could break the policy in a new way that Is not written with the policy. So updating the policy is also extremely important. I believe having a clear social media policy is the solution to regulate employee’s speech. It will help your organization engage with not only their clients, but also prepare or avoid a PR disaster.