Carefully Crafted on June 19

Ask Yourself These 10 Questions to Determine If Your Social Policy Needs Updating

A Central Ohio police officer was recently fired because of racially-charged posts on her personal Facebook page. From what I understand, the police department didn’t have a social media policy. Like many companies and organizations, they had a Code of Conduct, but it didn’t provide specific social media guidelines.

As I explained to our local media covering this story, while we’d like to believe that we’re only hiring people with good judgement, social media creates a false sense of security that all too often results in individuals posting things online that they’d never say in a public forum. Organizations that assume a standard Code of Conduct — or even common sense — provides enough guidance for employees’ personal social media channels are inviting a problem. Not only can the lack of a policy create confusion for employees, it also makes personnel discipline (e.g., probation, termination, etc.) more complicated.

Is your social media policy clear enough? Try asking these questions:

  1. Does it clearly articulate what is and isn’t acceptable?
  2. Has it been updated recently? If not, you probably don’t have a clearly defined policy around Periscope and other live-casting platforms, which need to be included.
  3. Does it specifically explain when and how someone should disengage from a conversation if it becomes heated or broaches a subject that the employee isn’t permitted to comment on?
  4. Is the notification hierarchy clear? Meaning, if someone spots “bad behavior” on a colleague’s personal social channels, do they know who to contact about it?
  5. Does the policy clearly articulate when/if/how employees can create channels on social networks? For example, what if someone wanted to create a private Facebook group for current employees? Is that allowed? Don’t assume people know the answer.
  6. Is the photo/video policy clear? Can employees post photos from inside your location? What if other employees or customers are visible in the shot?
  7. Does the policy clarify if/when it’s appropriate for employees to discuss competitors on social media?
  8. If employees are attending an event together, participating in a company-sponsored function, or volunteering for a nonprofit, are they encouraged to take photos and video that can be shared on social (external or internal) channels?
  9. If — heaven forbid — your company finds itself in a lawsuit or other crisis situation, do employees understand that they aren’t to address those issues online?
  10. If employees are contacted by media through their personal social channels, do they know how to engage your company’s media relations team?

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Need help auditing and updating your social media policy? I can help! Email me: heather [at] gebencomm.com.

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