A Social Media Policy is a crucial set of guidelines for companies to ensure safe and productive use of social media by employees. It covers both official channels and personal accounts, outlining expectations and rules for posting content about the company.
The policy should also specify who is allowed to post as representatives of the company and evolve as the company grows. It’s important to have this document in place to prevent incidents that can’t be undone.
Why Are Social Media Policies Important?
One of the biggest reasons you need a social media policy is that almost every employee uses it. There is a chance that your employees may have multiple social media profiles on different platforms. If people know that the employee works for your company, their actions could be a reflection of your company.
You want to give your employees plenty of autonomy, but you must also ensure you protect the company. That is why you should have a strong social media policy. Some of the biggest benefits of having a social media policy include:
1. Protects the Reputations of the Business and Employees
Many people do not think twice before they share something on social media. Then, when they wake up in the morning, they may realize that they should not have shared that information. Unfortunately, the internet is forever, and the information your employees share on social media could reflect themselves and the company. With a social media policy in place, you can protect the reputation of your business and your employees.
2. Ensures the Company Name and Line of Business are Used in a Positive Way
Even though social media has its dangers, it can also be beneficial. With a strong social media policy, you can ensure employees share information on social media that is positively related to the company. For example, you might want your employees to share information related to products, services, deals, and company updates across the company’s social media accounts. A social media policy allows you to control what is shared and how it is shared on the internet.
3. Spells Out Who is Allowed to Post on Behalf of the Company
A social media policy also specifies who is allowed to speak on behalf of the company. In many situations, people may share something on social media and not realize that it could be construed as an official company position. With a social media policy, you force your employees to think before they post, and it makes sure the company’s position is consistent.
4. Removes Any Confusion About Potential Legal Issues
Some people don’t realize that they could be putting themselves in legal jeopardy if they share something on social media, particularly if they share something protected by a trademark or copyright. A social media policy can remove any confusion related to potential legal issues, clarifying what your employees are and are not allowed to share.
5. Educates and Trains Employees on Proper Social Media Usage
Finally, your social media policy can also be implemented into a larger training program, letting your employees know how to use social media properly. Even though there are plenty of social media platforms, posts, and profile options, your employees must know how to use social media properly. A social media policy can be a strong foundation for a training program that can help you guide your employees on using social media properly.
How to Write
When crafting your Social Media Policy, use a numbered system that makes the policy easy to follow and easy to refer to during employee training or when they need to refer to its various sections.
Step 1 – Purpose
This section of our template lays out when employees must follow the policy. This includes managing company accounts and their personal use that affects employees or the company.
Step 2 – Guidelines for Using Social Media on Behalf of the Company
These guidelines identify who runs your company’s social media account. It includes several specific rules about activities such as using proper branding, keeping personal and company social media accounts separate, and only posting verifiable information.
Step 3 – Guidelines for Personal Social Media Accounts
This section aims to protect your company from harm if people post about it on social media. It covers items such as proprietary information, negative sentiments about the company, and the company’s right to take disciplinary action.
Step 4 – Ownership of Social Media Contacts
This step makes it clear that your company owns all contacts and their information acquired from social media accounts created on behalf of the company.
Step 5 – Respect and Privacy Rights
Employees are directed to follow the employee handbook in Step 5. It also specifies that employees must follow the social media platforms’ rules and be respectful when posting about the company or anyone related to it, such as clients or other employees.
This section also makes employees aware that they must follow state and federal laws about subjects such as pornography, discrimination, and creating a hostile work environment.
Step 6 – Transparency and Disclosures
Employees are notified in Step 6 about passing on others’ work as their own, honesty, and providing proper credit in the event of being paid or receiving free products or services for posting on social media.
Step 7 – Comment Moderation
This step notifies employees that they are responsible for keeping track of comments on their posts, including deleting forbidden ones, such as sexual or political comments.
Step 8 – Record Keeping
The record-keeping step of your policy directs employees to maintain web records regarding social media platforms in print or electronic format.
Step 9 – Additional Policy
The Additional Policy section of the template is open-ended, allowing you to add any specific information about your company or its services.
Download our free Social Media Policy template in PDF or Word format below:
How to Implement
To implement a social media policy for employees, you should:
- Download our social media policy template or use our step-by-step builder.
- Next, get input from multiple departments. You need your marketing and legal team to sign off on the policy, but you should talk to each department’s directors to ensure nothing is overlooked.
- You must make sure your social media policy is readily accessible to your employees. You may want to include it in your employee handbook, but ensure you share it on the employee dashboard or web portal.
- Make sure your employees know that you have a social media policy. Announce it to the team, and make sure they know that the rules of the social media policy bind them.
- From time to time, you should review your social media policy. New social media sites are constantly popping up, and some are more popular than others. Depending on the capabilities of various social media platforms, you may need to change your social media policy. If you make changes, be sure to share them with your employees.
- Specify who your employees can reach out to if they have questions. That way, they understand what they can and cannot post.
There are hundreds of millions of people who use social media on a daily basis. There are plenty of companies that have an entire social media marketing team. At the same time, social media can be harmful if it is not used properly. That is why it is helpful to have a company social media policy for employees.
An employee social media policy comes in many shapes and forms. That is why it may be helpful to take a look at social media policy examples. A few you may want to consider include:
The first example is from Nordstrom:
“You could be legally responsible for the content you share, so respect copyrights, trademarks, and brands.”
This example of social media policy is short, sweet, and to the point. You do not want your social media policy to be too long because your employees may not read it. The goal of the social media policy is to get your employees to think about what they share on personal accounts and company accounts. Even though they might be sharing it on their own account, they could be legally responsible for the information they share.
This next corporate social media policy example is from Intel:
Intel breaks its social media policy into three sections:
- Be Upfront
- Focus on the Good
- Use Your Best Judgement
This is a really positive approach to something quite serious. Rather than focus on the negatives and tell employees what they shouldn’t do, it promotes employee trust.
This is a great example of supporting your employees and supporting transparency, honesty, authenticity, and accuracy. Remember, your policy needs to advocate proper use of social media on both personal and corporate accounts and this is a unique approach to doing just that.
Here is another social media policy that comes from Dell:
“All team members are encouraged to speak about the company and share news and information, but only authorized and trained spokespeople may speak on behalf of Dell Technologies and issue official company responses.”
This is another short policy that clearly specifies what people can and cannot do. Even though employees are free to use their social media accounts, they cannot share official Dell company positions. With a clear policy in place, the company protects itself while providing helpful information that its employees can use when deciding what they should or should not share.
Clearly, there are a lot of options if you need to craft a corporate social media policy. Some of the key takeaways from the points above include:
- The policy should not be too long. Otherwise, employees may not read it in its entirety.
- The language has to be straightforward. The policy should be clear, letting employees know what the policy is and why it is important.
- The policy should specify what employees can and cannot do on social media.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Should You Include In a Social Media Policy?
In a Social Media Policy, you should include:
- Information regarding which employees are allowed to use social media and which sites they are allowed to access
- A clear description of which staff members are authorized to speak on behalf of the company
- A thorough review of acceptable conduct, who will oversee employee social media use, and how company rules are enforced
- Security measures that include rules regarding the use of functions such as instant messaging or password strength
- Disclaimers that lay out the difference between employee opinions and company stances
- Guidelines for engagement with others when using an official company account
Is it legal to have a Social Media Policy?
It is legal to have a Social Media Policy for your company, but you must ensure it does not violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRA includes provisions regarding communication among employees, and its provisions apply to your document.
Maintaining good relationships with your employees and complying with federal regulations are two more important reasons you should use a professionally made template.
What is the purpose of a Social Media Policy?
A Social Media Policy aims to set forth expectations for employees when they use social media, whether they are writing as themselves or as a representative of your company. It sets forth rules and enforcement, and it clarifies who is responsible for the oversight of employees.
A comprehensive policy for employees helps protect your company and the reputations of your employees. It also lays the framework for advancing your company’s goals through positive social media interaction.
How restrictive should my company’s social media policy be?
How restrictive your company’s social media policy should be depends on the industry in which you operate. If you think your employees have access to inside information about secret products and services your company may be developing, then the policy might need to be more restrictive. On the other hand, there are some industries where you might be able to give your employees a bit more freedom.
How do I distribute my social media policy?
You should distribute your company social media policy using various methods. First, you may want to send it to everyone in the company through email. Then, you may want to post it on the employee dashboard. Finally, make sure to include a copy of the policy in the employee handbook.
Should I monitor my employee’s social media pages?
Whether you should monitor your employees’ social media pages depends on the industry you’re working in. If you’re worried about trade secrets or confidential information getting out, you may want to monitor employee social media activity. This is also valid if you want to ensure no harm is being done to the business reputation, you want your business to be viewed professionally and employees making malicious or harmful comments could damage that.
Are employee social media policies necessary?
Yes, employee social media policies are necessary. Just about everyone uses social media today, and the information your employees share on social media could be a reflection of the company. Because it leaves your brand vulnerable, you need to have a social media policy that you can use to hold your employees accountable.