Some companies now even expect to exploit the social media networks of their staff. But as the line blurs between work and non-work use risks increase.
Over half of the world's population are now social media users according to We Are Social & Hootsuite research. That's 4.2 billion people, of whom 20% use it for work. Whilst your business may benefit from employees being active on social media, the downsides of unrestricted use go well beyond wasting time.
From lost business to discrimination, without guidance workplace social media posts can be a minefield. And with the introduction of GDPR, it is now more important than ever to make staff aware of what is and is not acceptable behaviour.
Social media growth shows no signs of slowing
Recent figures compiled by Avocado Social show how widespread social media has become:
- 45 million users of social media in the UK (66% of population).
- Social media usage increased to 1 h 49m in the last 12 months.
- Facebook has 2.2 billion global users.
- LinkedIn ads have the potential to reach 56% of the UK's adult population.
- Twitter has 353 million global users, 16.5m of which are UK based.
With most of your employees active on social media (even during work hours), you'll need to set a code of conduct to govern employee usage.
Key elements of a corporate social media policy
1. Define your company's attitude to social media
Is it a tool that is vital to your company's success, a tolerated distraction, or worse a risk to the security of commercially sensitive information? Decide if some personal use is allowed during lunch or break times or whether at work access is completely banned.
2. Set usage expectations
Be clear about what behaviour is and isn't allowed - for example, updating your Facebook status may be acceptable during lunch or break times, but don't say or comment on something that may be considered detrimental to your firm, reveal commercial secrets or share offensive images or emails.
3. Don't air grievances in public
Advise colleagues to stay clear of social media altogether if they've had a bad day at work; airing personal grievances about their boss/colleagues/customers online should be avoided as it may lead to disciplinary action.
4. Refresh employee knowledge of compliance issues
Remind staff that what one person considers funny may in fact be discriminatory, bullying, libellous or cause offence. And when communicating with third parties don't forget GDPR - particularly when dealing with sensitive personal information.
5. Stop non-work use of work email addresses
Most companies prohibit employees from using their work email to post comments on chat forums, sign up for social media or shopping sites, or buy goods online, unless it is work related.
6. Remind staff not to claim to represent your firm
When staff post on social media posts or make comments, they must not claim to represent the views of your company unless it is part of their role to do so! And those that do need to remember there may be additional restrictions for your industry.
7. Think before you post
Staff need to remember that social media sites are considered 'public' by law and once you've posted something online, it is often impossible to remove it. So, they should avoid posting anything that may compromise their personal safety or breach confidentiality.
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