Why You Need a Social Media Policy Now!

Posted on February 5, 2013.

There was a great article in Fast Company recently that provided guidelines on what you can or can’t fire someone for when it comes to their social media communications.   Surprisingly, tweeting about your lousy working conditions may or may not get your fired, depending on whether you’re alone. So besides knowing the law, why is it critical to have a social media policy?

Social media isn’t going away.  There are over 1.3 Billion active users of just Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. That doesn’t count Pinterest or Youtube.  And don’t think your employees aren’t using these sites during the day. According to a recent Silkroads study, 75% of workers check their personal social media at least once a day and 60% are checking it more than once.  If my friends are any indication, even those percentages seem low.

Companies can’t continue to ignore the elephant in the room.  Maybe you think by not having a social media policy, you’ve implicitly communicated that it’s not allowed. Look at the numbers I just quoted you. That theory isn’t working.  How do you start?

1.     Work with your attorney or consult with a labor attorney to make sure you’re up to date on all the recent rulings from the National Labor Relations Board. Know what’s acceptable and what’s not.

2.     Check with your peer groups, or industry associations to see if they have a recommended template you can use.

3.     Develop a communication plan so everyone understands what’s expected.

Trying to ban all social media use during the workday is naïve. People will use their personal mobile devices.  Accepting that it’s happening and laying the ground rules for acceptable behavior will help you act quickly if you have an employee that is using these sites inappropriately.