Social media use by employees—posting on their personal accounts during work hours and mentioning your company on social media outside of work hours—presents opportunities and challenges for small business owners.
Creating a social media policy for your employees can give your staff clarity on what is or is not acceptable. While social media policies must meet legal requirements, they should also provide opportunities for employees to support your company’s social media efforts.
Here are some general tips to consider as you develop a social media policy for your business.
Realize that in protecting your company from lost time and reputation damage, you need to heed the rights of your employees as well. Research how federal and state laws will affect your company’s social media policy. The National Labor Relations Act's rules protect employees’ freedom of speech and the Federal Trade Commission has rules on what’s required in the way of disclosures for endorsements, promotion, reviews, and other circumstances where there are incentives for social mentions.
Explain expected behaviors and uses of social media. This includes addressing use of social media during work hours. Also, educate employees about when they need to disclose their association with your business when they personally post, share, or comment about your company’s products, services, events, etc.
Craft a “general” policy for the majority of employees and one specifically for employees who manage your business’s social media accounts. Team members who have the responsibilities of posting to and monitoring your accounts will require some flexibility and additional direction in the way of an internal strategy and a style guide.
Encourage employees to ask questions to help you identify if any elements of your policy may need clarification. It’s critical to keep everyone on the same page, so communicate additional details with all team members.
As with any other policy that might have a legal impact on your small business, it’s wise to consult with an attorney and/or human resource professional when crafting and implementing your policy.