Social Media has opened up new opportunities for sharing and discussion. Lauby (2009, para. 8) explains that just as directives are needed for a company’s telephone and email exchanges, guidelines are also necessary for an organisation’s online interactions and that communications policies should be extended to include social media. A well written social media policy has importance as it can be seen to protect both the organisation and its employees. Fleet (2009 p.3) supports this idea and explains that boundaries set by a social media policy not only protect the organisation, they can empower employees in the use of social media tools when they know what is acceptable and unacceptable.
I would advise the following key points to consider when developing a social media policy with regard to employees use of web 2.0 tools and spaces for work and personal use:
- Employees need to be aware that company policies extend outside of the workplace, there should be no expectation of privacy as the organisation reserves the right to monitor their use of social media “even if they are engaging in social networking or social media use away from the office” (Lauby, 2009 para.12) The CIPR guidelines (2009, p.2) state that employees should take care and understand that reputation is holistic, that an image created through social media can reflect not only on themselves but on the company.
- Employees need to ensure accuracy when disseminating information as well as respect for the intellectual property of others.
- Confidentiality can be seen to be paramount. Within the CIPR guidelines (2009, p.3) the importance of safeguarding the confidences of present and former clients is outlined and it is explained that dissemination of insider information could lead to disciplinary action or possible prosecution.
- Employees should not use derogatory, discriminatory or defamatory language especially when engaging in discussions about competitors. Lauby (2009, para.14 ) explains that the organisation’s online community should be not be based on competition, it should be an environment where users feel comfortable connecting and sharing ideas.
- In the interests of transparency, Lasica n.d) recommends that employees identify their role and relationship with the organisation as well as revealing any commercial or personal connections with customers. This can be seen to help build trust.
CIPR Social Media Guidelines (2009, January) Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Europe. Retrieved from http://www.cipr.co.uk/socialmedia/
Fleet, D. (2009, October 18). Social Media Policies Ebook [Slideshare] Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/davefleet/social-media-policies-ebook
Lasica (n.d) Best practices for developing a social media policy. Society for New Communications Research. Availablehttp://www.socialmedia.biz/social-media-policies/best-practices-for-developing-a-social-media-policy/
Lauby, S. (2009) 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy, Mashable, 6 February [blog] Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2009/06/02/social-media-policy-musts/
Lauby, S. (2009) Should Your Company Have a Social Media Policy?Mashable, 27 April [blog] Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2009/04/27/social-media-policy/