HR & Management

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Why every company needs a social media policy

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Your company doesn’t use social media in its marketing mix, and you’ve blocked access to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter from the company’s systems. You’ve even forbid employees from having their mobiles out at work, so they can’t access social networking sites during the day.

So why do you need a policy on social media usage?

Let’s just consider some scenarios. What would you do if:

  • You found a member of staff routinely downloading contacts from the company’s relationship management database, and connecting with them on LinkedIn or other social networking websites with electronic address book facilities?
  • A member of your firm places insensitive, abusive and potentially libellous comments on a competitor’s blog, which a client or journalist tracks back to a member of your company?
  • A manager posts up potentially embarrassing photos from the company Christmas party, which a client could see?
  • A member of staff in these compromising photos posts on the internet alleged bullying and harassment, because of these photos being posted up?
  • A former employee doesn’t update their LinkedIn account to show that they’ve left the firm, and the former employee then posts inappropriate comments on LinkedIn about the company or the company’s clients?
  • An employee is continuously spending all their time on LinkedIn and Twitter for “business development” purposes?
  • An employee of the firm has their own personal blog or Twitter account which states that “the views stated here are my own, not my employers”, but the content being posted is potentially embarrassing to the company (for example if sexist or racist views are expressed)?
  • One of your employees uses Twitter and their LinkedIn account for business development and client conversations, but unfortunately get stuck abroad while on holiday, without internet access – how would you access their accounts?
  • An employee indulges in inappropriate conversations with clients on social networking sites?
  • An employee starts a blog branded with your company’s name, and posts up inappropriate material?

It’s rather worrying, isn’t it?

Have you set a precedent (ie a policy) which states what is and isn’t acceptable for employees of your company to do on social networking sites and social media in general – regardless of whether they are doing this in their own time?

This is why your firm needs a social media policy.

Heather Townsend is the author of The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking. and the founder of The Efficiency Coach. Follow her Partnership Potential and Joined Up Networking blog for more useful tips and tricks.

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