The concept of organisations using a social media policy is still relatively new. But more companies are now turning to sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in order to target potential customers and to raise business profile.
So the need to have a social media policy in place to help reduce online risks is increasing.
I've seen several example policies from both the public and private sectors which are detailed and interlink to other existing corporate policies owned by the respective organisation... data retention, email, Internet, communications, information governance, and so on... In some cases the social media policy duplicates others unnecessarily.
My view is that the social media policy should keep things simple by focusing only on the employee's behaviour when using social media sites. Alternative policies can deal with other IT issues and the whole lot brought together under one IT governance strategy.
Social Media Policy
Unless they work in a heavily-regulated sector SMEs might want to consider using the social media policy example written below. Always remember to get professional legal advice tailored to your own individual circumstances first.
"Our company's Social Media Policy aims to help support your use and enjoyment of social media whilst at work.
Every day, people talk online about the company and the markets in which we operate. As an employee, you're already part of this conversation and an ambassador for our business, whether on the shop floor or in the community. You may already be using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to keep in touch with family, colleagues and friends.
We recognise the opportunities and benefits of participating in social networks and online communities, and encourage our staff to do so. If you're using social media, the best advice is to approach the virtual world in the same way we do the physical one – by using sound judgement and common sense.
Speaking 'on behalf of the organisation' is different from speaking 'about the organisation'. Official spokespeople are available across the business who are trained to speak on the organisation's behalf, manage our reputation and our official sites.
- Treat yourself with respect and avoid publishing comments, photographs and videos that show you in a negative light.
- Treat other people with respect and avoid speaking negatively about other people, companies or organisations.
- Be real and identify yourself as a company employee. Don't use an alias or mislead people about your connection to the company.
- Be mindful that the Internet is public. Customers and colleagues may have access to the information you post online. Information intended for others may also be passed on and traced back to you.
- Remember that competitors and media are watching us by constantly searching the Internet for news stories. Think carefully about the content you are sharing online.
- Know your stuff and take responsibility for what you write. Posts and comments are public and permanent. Be accurate, don't mislead and be careful not to reveal company confidential information – plans, strategies, customer lists - or personal information about your colleagues.
- Respect copyright and give credit where due. Don't publish text, images or videos that were created by someone else without crediting them."