Social media policy

by on 28/02/2010

social media scrabble tiles

Every day we read stories about social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTubeand LinkedIn. Here are some of the most recent from the FITM blog:

Depending on your point of view you may think that social media sites are a useful business tool for your staff to research, network, and engage in marketing and PR activities. Or you may think that they are a time waster and introduce significant business risks of bad press.

The truth is that both points of view have validity. What is important is to decide what is right for your business and then to educate your staff to the new guidelines.

It is important, as with email, that staff know that their social networking site usage will be monitored and recorded. Company policies, for example on anti-harassment, ethics and company loyalty, extend to all forms of communication both inside and outside the workplace and the consequences of sharing confidential information or being rude about your company or boss are the same whatever form it takes.


So every company should develop a social media policy. This policy should form part of the staff handbook and have the backing of the senior management of a company. Employees should be trained in the policy and sign to say that they have understood and while abide by it.

And then, you need to monitor what your staff are doing and have the ability to react quickly to prohibit individuals if necessary.

Technological solutions exist that make this relatively easy. Systems allow monitoring and recording of all web activity including that on social networking sites. So, you can monitor how long is spent on different types of site, and randomly sample the kind of comments that are being posted. If necessary, you can lock individuals out of types of site or restrict their use to certain hours of the day. For example, you might consider it appropriate to allow staff to use Facebook during the lunchtime, but not the rest of the working day.

These technological solutions work well within your office, and can be extended to other company equipment, such as laptops, even if this is used away from the workplace. However, what staff do on their own PC in their own time can’t be controlled in the same way.

What you can do however, is search social networking sites for your company name. This will highlight where staff are writing inappropriate things, but will also show what customers, suppliers etc. are saying about you. As such, looking at Internet comments about your organisation is something that all companies should be doing anyway, not just in order to monitor and enforce your social networking policy.

This may all sound difficult, but it isn’t really. The hardest thing is to determine your company’s stance on the use of social networking sites. Once you have that, a template policy can be adapted and suitable monitoring and networking put in place if required.

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