A strong social media policy can protect your brand and avoid embarrassing posts

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It's a good time to update existing policies to cover the increase in remote work and set clear expectations for employees about using social media during work hours.

Now that Twitter is the official platform for presidential policy making and TikTok has a new option for businesses, corporate social media policies are more important than ever. If you don't have one, you need one. It's also a good time to update existing policies to account for changing standards and the increase in remote work. 

Eric Akira Tate, co-chair of global employment and labor at Morrison & Foerster, said that now is the time to establish or update social media policies as the US is in the midst of a civil rights movement and as companies make good faith attempts at education and improving the treatment of Black people in the country.  

"Reviewing social media policies so that there are no misunderstandings about what use of social media is acceptable or not for an employer is all the more appropriate to do now," he said.

SEE: Social media policy (TechRepublic Premium)

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Tate said employers should have policies in place to prevent employees from inadvertently or purposefully interfering with the employer's desired image.

"A policy puts employees on notice of what conduct or use of social media is allowed and not allowed within the parameters of their employment and work for the employer," he said. "It allows employers to have more consistent enforcement in the event of improper behavior."   

Kristin Johnson, vice president of content and communications at the social media management platform Sprout Social, said that having a policy in place can create a sense of autonomy for employees who run the accounts. 

"By putting policies in place, teams have the opportunity to truly understand their role and operate within guidelines without the constant fear of putting your brand credibility at risk," she said.

SEE: Social media policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Johnson said another key component of rolling out a policy is explaining the "why" behind the policy.

"One thing to consider adding to your policy are some guidelines and processes for when to pause posting any brand content to ensure people are being respectful of the social climate," she said. "Aligning social media policies with the organization's larger communication approach now can help the team be more agile in moments that require quick adaptation."

Adjusting your policy to cover remote work

Tate recommended reviewing existing social media policies to cover the increase in remote work. 

"Employers should make sure that their social media policies are very clear on what, if
any, social media usage is permitted while working, and the possible consequences
should employees be found to be on social media when they are supposed to be working," he said.

Companies should also make a clear distinction between work social media versus personal social media.  

SEE: Social media policy (TechRepublic Premium)
 
This is also a good time to remind employees that they should take the same care with social media activity at home as they do at the office.

"Being careful about taking selfies with computer screens or work papers in the background, for example, could inadvertently reveal confidential business information," Tate said. "Siri and similar voice-features of mobile phones, can also be an inadvertent trap for unintended disclosure of confidential information."

Finally, Tate suggested expanding the definition of social media to include video conferencing sites, given the amount of business happening in online chats at the moment.

TechRepublic Premium's Social media policy is a good starting point for companies that need a policy. It covers requirements for employees using corporate social media accounts, guidelines for tasteful content, and monitoring rules. This policy also helps companies tailor the policy to fit a company's specific situation.

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