Ghost Writer & Content Development Advisor
6 Tips For Creating A Good Social Media Policy
Categories: From Pete's Desk

It’s time to Cowboy Up and Ride that Social Media Policy!  Go on now.  Git up on that horse and ride it into town!

No, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on T.V.   I’m also not a Cowboy but I do own a few Stetsons.  But, I am going to tell you a thing or two about hashing out your company’s Social Media Policy.  So… kick your feet into those stirrups and hold on tight all you H.R. and other administrative policy crafters you…

The deal-ee-oo is this: Social Media is no passing fad.  It’s the way millions upon millions of people are communicating.  From iPhones to iPads, Notepads, Droids to Blackberries and yes, even those dinosaur laptop users are all connected more than 75% of their day.

It’s time for business owners, C-Levels, Human Resource professionals and other policy administrators to pull their heads out of the Social Media Sandbox.  Your employees, your vendors, your clients in one way or another are most likely communicating via at least one social media venue if not more.  The future of your business, the digital native generation, will NOT take kindly to restrictive communication. 

Besides, you know what’s in sandboxes… right?  Why would you want to put your head in that?!?

You’d better hold on there a second Bub…  This is my company.  I built it up to what it is and I’ll run it the way I see fit”! 

Mmmm Hmmmmm…

I don’t know who you think you are…  But we’ve got share holders to answer to and board members and committees who govern our employment policies.  You can’t just walk in here and tell us what kind of policies we can and can’t write”!

Mmmm Hmmmmm…

The thing is I don’t need to.  The National Labor Relations Board is taking care of that.  What I’m doing here is helping you with a little awareness and a few suggestions.

Not only is it OK to have a company/organization social media policy in place, it’s a very darn good idea.  You just need to be sure you’re not trying to enforce an illegal policy.  Because if you are, and they’re made aware of it, the NLRB will knock you right off that high horse you’re on Cowboy.

If your social media policy is too broad in its restrictions, and doesn’t include a “savings clause”, you’re headed backwards down a slippery mudslide on a horse with no shoes tryin’ its best to climb up. 

Here are a few tips to help you create a good social media policy…

1 Accept that if your company isn’t participating in the conversation, you’ve given up control of your brand, your image.  Conversations are and will continue to be had about your organization on-line.  Jump in and be a part of it.

2 Focus your policies on corporate/organizational social media profile activity.  This is the U.S. of A., Jack.  Your employees, in any position, can create a social media profile if they want to.  Don’t make your policies about personal profiles.

3 Use a little common sense with regard to restricted activity.  For example, the NLRB did rule it OK for companies to include restrictions against postings on social media profiles they own that refer to illegal drugs, that are sexually explicit and are discriminatory against race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability or in any way violate equal employment opportunity state and federal laws.

Hey, you can even prohibit postings that contain or directly refer to confidential and proprietary information about your business processes, practices, and even those of your clients, suppliers and vendors.  It’s also OK to prohibit social media posts of intellectual property your company owns.  Check out the ‘Advice Response Memo’ pdf from the NLRB on Case 18-CA-019081

4 Take this opportunity to encourage the types of posts you want your employees to make.  Talk about company events, fun projects, challenges, victories, even losses and failures in ways that help you grow your brand.

5 Be very very careful about any policies that prohibit ‘disparaging comments’ about your company.  Hey, someone is most likely going to piss someone else off within your employee ranks at one time or another.  It’s up to you to handle those situations responsibly. 

True, it’s NOT OK for people or even other corporate entities to make liable, slanderous or defamation comments in their posts.  But, remember, when you make that accusation you carry the burden of proof.

6 Remember that “savings clause” I mentioned, work that in.  A basic statement about how your policy will not be applied in any way that it would violate state or federal law should always be included.

So Cowboy, consult with your employment or labor attorney, write that social media policy up and ride it into the corral. 

Again, I’m NOT an attorney and this is NOT legal advice.  I do have more than a decade of human resource experience behind me as well as very strong marketing experience.  I’ve learned a few lessons the hard way and have also enjoyed fantastic success.  I’m just sharing a little of what I’ve learned along the way. 

Hope it helps.

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