Almost all businesses who use marketing have social media accounts. Social media increases brand awareness better than anything, considering over one billion people around the world use it. Social media provides many benefits. You can use it as a tool for customer service, to let customers interact with the business, and do it all very inexpensively. Even so, many organizations fall behind when it comes to utilizing this amazing tool. This often comes from a legitimate fear that employees may misuse social media at work, or misrepresent the company on the sites. This is why it is important to manage social media in the workplace.
To look at it fairly, technology continues to evolve rapidly, and companies need to put serious consideration into their privacy and security before completely embracing networks that are all about sharing everything. Not to mention, the laws about social media don’t offer a lot of safety about intellectual property (and understandably so, as social media doesn’t allow for a good or easy way to make laws for its use).
If this sounds like your company, check out some of the ways you and your business can successfully manage social media use in the workplace.
Understand Employee Rights
First and foremost, you want to create a policy for your employees to actually follow. The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) has set rules about employees’ rights, which you should learn about before you try to draft a policy. For example, employees have the right to talk about their work conditions on social media sites without any act of retribution from employers. The board (NLRB) releasing the act also releases general advice on what to do and not do when managing employees’ social media use.
Create a Policy For Social Media In The Workplace
Once you understand what kind of restrictions you’re allowed to enforce, then create a policy. Don’t draft anything that’s ambiguous or too broad. You want clarity and specificity, with examples of behaviour that violates the policy. Put the focus on things NOT protected by the NLRA, of course. Some restrictions you can make: no disclosing trade secrets, no posting any offensive language, no harassment, no discrimination, no disparaging comments about other employees. Having clear restrictions that protect both the company and its employees help create the tone you want for the work place.
These restrictions should be legally documented as well. In addition to policies and documentation, it is important to secure business insurance through companies such as The Hartford for the utmost protection. Having a policy in place won’t just cut the risk of issues. Restrictions help keep people from the many distractions on social media, and they also give people clear guidelines on how to do their job, as social media can often feel like a free-for-all.
Advise and Train Employees
Image via Flickr by Todd Barnard
Once you’ve got a solid policy down, its time to train the employees on how to correctly use social media and follow the policy. First of all, you’ll want to let them know that any activity they do on company owned property could be monitored. Let them know this before monitoring happens so people can expect not to have privacy when communicating through your companies devices. You’ll probably want to grab signatures from everybody to make sure they understand exactly what’s happening.
Once they know you’re monitoring them, then you can tell them the details about what they need to avoid doing. It’s always essential in any workplace to give clear communication to your employees about the social media policy. Make sure your employees fully understand exactly how these rules apply to their tasks. Let them know the risks, but also let them know the benefits of it when used correctly. Make sure to periodically update employees on policies, especially if they don’t have to refer to them daily.
Manage the Policy
Even though you’ve drafted and explained the policy to your employees, you still need to keep up on it. Make sure to actually enforce the policy in the workplace. Create some kind of disciplinary action so people know you’re enforcing the rules and watching out for inappropriate social media use. If anything ends up going to court (which you want to avoid anyway), you’ll find it easier to make your policy seem valid if it had regular enforcement.
You’ll also want to include a provision that allows the policy to be changed at any time. Social media and technology change at outrageously rapid rates, so it’s silly to expect a policy on the subject to stay effective over a long period without any sort of change.
Teach Employees to Leverage
Social media doesn’t just have to act as a danger zone for your business. Social media facilitates open communication between organizations and people. It enhances the discovery and delivery of information. It offers the greatest opportunity to reach out to new people and create new business contacts. It promotes diversity within the business and inclusion. You can also use social media to recruit new employees.
Social media brings all kinds of opportunities to your company, so don’t let that potential go to waste. Just make sure your employees understand the most appropriate ways to use the products.