Use of social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and now Google+ has become prevalent in people’s lives and in their workplaces. Facebook has more than 700 million users — that is one in every nine people on earth — and half of them log in daily.
We see a daily increase of social media in the workplace as well. Recent statistics show that workers spend three hours per day surfing online during working hours for personal pursuits, and 64% of workers admitted to using the Internet for personal purposes during working hours.
If the statistics are correct, 45% of working hours are wasted every week!
However, my purpose in writing this piece is not to analyze statistics, but rather to point out how to companies can minimize the risks of unauthorized use of social media in the workplace.
The answer is very simple: implementation of social media polices.
I was shocked to learn that only 20% of companies worldwide have implemented a social media policy. Doing so is the most effective way to minimize an employer’s risk with respect to social media use in and outside of the workplace.
The policy should be in tandem with the technology use policy, but its main focus should be to appropriate the use of social media platforms, tools and websites and also to clearly describe the consequences of inappropriate use.
Consistent enforcement of the policy, once implemented, is absolutely essential to maximize the policy’s effectiveness.
While a company’s social media policy must be tailored to its specific workplace, there also are many common elements that should be included in any social media policy.
Here are what I see as the 12 most common items:
Set out the purpose of the policy.
Explain to whom the policy applies and also when and where it applies.
Clearly establish what activities are prohibited, such as: posting of any images or logos related to the company, its customers and business partners; harassment or any other damaging or offensive behavior; disclosure of confidential information or documents; posting comments, images or any other information that could potentially have a negative impact on the company’s reputation; posting comments about workplace issues; and employees representing themselves as agents of the company without prior authorization.
4. Clearly define
Define the purpose of the policy by explaining the definition of “social media,” including platforms such as Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook as well as any activities to which the policy applies, like posting, commenting or blogging.
5. Clarify rights
Clearly advise employees of the employer’s rights with regard to monitoring of computer use and social media use. Limited expectation of privacy might also be added to this area of the policy.
6. Be clear about monitoring
Define whether usage of computer systems, Internet, email and social media will be monitored. If so, describe in detail which systems will be monitored.
7. Explain what’s permissible
Explain whether usage of social media platforms is permissible, and if so, in what context, at what times and for what purpose such usage is permitted.
8. Include other corporate policies
Explain what other company policies may be applicable to social media use, such as the company’s policies in regard to confidentiality, harassment and any others that apply.
9. Define process
Explain the investigation process regarding social media use. Explain when and on what basis an investigation may be conducted and what procedures will be followed.
10. State consequences of breach
State the consequences of a breach of the policy, including disciplinary action as well as potential civil liability for reputational damage.
11. Open ongoing communication channel
Provide contact information for the members of the management team whom employees may contact for additional information.
12. Encourage employees to use privacy settings
Last, but not least, encourage employees to use the privacy settings on any social media platforms they use to limit the public accessibility of their information and images.
I know many readers will say, “All 12 of these elements are simply common sense.” Yes, they are, but common sense is not always common! When there is conflict over “Facebook firings” or being “dooced,” having a well-written social media policy in place will definitely help all parties understand the implications of behavior around social media and any resulting consequences.
This was originally posted at 12.most.com