According to a recent report, about 40% of U.S. companies enforce workplace bans on employees’ using social-media Web sites — and the number of bans is growing. Should your organization jump on the bandwagon? Or is there another choice?
The report, ” Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risks,” also describes the love/hate relationship businesses have with social media:
More than 80% say it can enhance relationships with customers and employees, but …
- 80% are concerned about the risks
- 51% worry it will erode productivity, and
- 49% fear it could damage their reputation.
Clearly, many are unclear about the issue.
About a third of companies have developed social-network policies instead of a stark ban. Experts say that’s the way to go, if your policy has the right elements. For instance:
- Define your overall philosophy to social media. Is your company’s philosophy like BestBuy or Zappos to embrace social media?
- Emphasize honesty and respect. The best policies stress that employees should be honest and transparent. For example, if a service rep promotes your products, he should admit that he works for your company.
- Reinforce the company’s confidentiality policies. Because disclosure is so easy on social media, remind employees of the risks.
- Differentiate between an employee’s personal online identity and professional. For example, an employee may have a personal blog but also Twitter about work on company time. Is it okay for an employee to use her work e-mail address to leave a comment on a blog unrelated to work?
- Focus on the use of social media as it relates to job performance instead of talking about company time. Why? Many employees may use social media to promote their company outside of the regular business hours.
- Avoid conflicts of interest. Give examples of what kind of conflicts may come about and how they should be addressed.
- Include a disclaimer.
- Discuss monitoring of these activities. Your company may decide to monitor social media usage and discipline those who abuse the policy.
- Apply policy uniformly. The best policies apply to everyone and not just the marketing department. However, this may not be realistic in every company.
- Integrate the policy with other corporate policies, like discrimination, ethics, code of conduct, etc.
Click here to download the full report in PDF format.