Creating a Social Media Policy

Posted by

Lynne Callister

on 30 Jun 2023

As companies exploit the social media networks of their staff, the line between work and non-work use blurs, risks increase, and a social media policy becomes essential.

Creating a Social Media Policy

Nearly 60% of the world's population are social media users, according to We Are Social & Hootsuite research - that's 4.76 billion people. 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 has become 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 show how widespread social media has become:

  • 57.1 million users of social media in the UK (84.4% of the population)
  • The typical internet user spends 2.5 hours a day on social media
  • Facebook has 2.96 billion monthly active users (37% of the global population)
  • Twitter's ads reach 10.8% of total internet users
  • LinkedIn now has more than 900 million registered users
  • WhatsApp is the world's favourite social media platform

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 through a social media policy.

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How to Create a Social Media Policy

1. Define your company's attitude toward social media

Is it a tool 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 for employees

Be clear about what behaviour is and isn't allowed. For example, updating your Facebook status may be acceptable during lunch or break times. However, 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 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.

Tips for Social Media Policies

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 this 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 on social media

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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