Creating an Effective Social Media Policy
Employers should take the following steps when creating a social media policy:
- Do Not Prohibit Protected or Concerted Activity. Under the NLRA (National Labor Relations Act), employees have the right to post or carry on conversations on social media sites regarding wage and working conditions. The policy should indicate that protected speech cannot be censored by an employer.
- Personal Complaints and Offensive Remarks Are Not Protected. Make it clear that legally protected activity does not include personal complaints or gripes; nor does it protect an employee’s offensive, demeaning, defamatory, abusive, or inappropriate remarks.
- Be Specific. A poorly drafted, overly broad policy could leave you subject to liability for potentially violating employee rights.
- Requiring Disclaimers on Certain Posts Is Acceptable.Employers can require employees to include disclaimers on their postings, such as, “The postings on this site are my own and do not represent the employer’s positions, strategies, or opinions,” if the postings directly or indirectly relate to the employer.
- Prevent Bullying, Discrimination, and Harassment. Social media can become a forum for inappropriate, unwelcome remarks about employees by supervisors, or among co-workers. Be clear in your social media policy that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.
- Comply With State and Federal Laws. Remind employees not to post any information or engage in any online activity that violates applicable local, state, or federal laws.
- Be Careful About What Gets Posted About the Company. Blogs and social media website postings may be reviewed, copied, and disseminated by others, including competitors. LinkedIn specifically is a great way to share exciting company news—just make sure the news is not proprietary or shared prematurely.
- Make Clear Who Owns Certain Material. Employers need to clearly describe in their social media policies what materials belong to the company and what belongs to the employee. Blog posts created during nonworking hours on topics unrelated to the business typically belong to the employee.
- Protect Confidential Trade Secrets. Protect confidential, proprietary information by instituting a social media policy that prohibits unauthorized dissemination.
- Educate and Enforce. Educate the workforce and make the policy readily available; then monitor and enforce the policy, and update it regularly.
Example using http://socialmedia.policytool.net/
Kaos Radio Social Media Policy
This policy governs the publication of and commentary on social media by employees of KAOS Radio and its related companies (“Kaos Radio”). For the purposes of this policy, social media means any facility for online publication and commentary, including without limitation blogs, wiki’s, social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. This policy is in addition to and complements any existing or future policies regarding the use of technology, computers, e-mail and the internet.
Kaos Radio employees are free to publish or comment via social media in accordance with this policy. Kaos Radio employees are subject to this policy to the extent they identify themselves as a Kaos Radio employee (other than as an incidental mention of place of employment in a personal blog on topics unrelated to Kaos Radio).
Before engaging in work related social media, employees must obtain the permission of the Station Manager.
Notwithstanding the previous section, this policy applies to all uses of social media, including personal, by Kaos Radio employees who are Person 1, as their position with Kaos Radio would be well known within the community.
Publication and commentary on social media carries similar obligations to any other kind of publication or commentary.
All uses of social media must follow the same ethical standards that Kaos Radio employees must otherwise follow.
Setting up Social Media
Assistance in setting up social media accounts and their settings can be obtained from Kaos Radio’s Station Manager.
Social media identities, logon ID’s and user names may not use Kaos Radio’s name without prior approval from the Station Manager.
Your profile on social media sites must be consistent with your profile on the Kaos Radio website or other Kaos Radio publications. Profile information may be obtained from the Station Manager.
Don’t Tell Secrets
It’s perfectly acceptable to talk about your work and have a dialog with the community, but it’s not okay to publish confidential information. Confidential information includes things such as unpublished details about our software, details of current projects, future product ship dates, financial information, research, and trade secrets. We must respect the wishes of our corporate customers regarding the confidentiality of current projects. We must also be mindful of the competitiveness of our industry.
Protect your own privacy
Privacy settings on social media platforms should be set to allow anyone to see profile information similar to what would be on the Kaos Radio website. Other privacy settings that might allow others to post information or see information that is personal should be set to limit access. Be mindful of posting information that you would not want the public to see.
Do not blog anonymously, using pseudonyms or false screen names. We believe in transparency and honesty. Use your real name, be clear who you are, and identify that you work for Kaos Radio. Nothing gains you notice in social media more than honesty – or dishonesty. Do not say anything that is dishonest, untrue, or misleading. If you have a vested interest in something you are discussing, point it out. But also be smart about protecting yourself and your privacy. What you publish will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully and also be cautious about disclosing personal details.
Respect copyright laws
It is critical that you show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use or fair dealing of copyrighted material owned by others, including Kaos Radio own copyrights and brands. You should never quote more than short excerpts of someone else’s work, and always attribute such work to the original author/source. It is good general practice to link to others’ work rather than reproduce it.
Respect your audience, Kaos Radio, and your coworkers
The public in general, and Kaos Radio’s employees and customers, reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view. Don’t say anything contradictory or in conflict with the Kaos Radio website. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, offensive comments, defamatory comments, personal insults, obscenity, etc.) but also proper consideration of privacy and of topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory – such as politics and religion. Use your best judgment and be sure to make it clear that the views and opinions expressed are yours alone and do not represent the official views of Kaos Radio.
Protect Kaos Radio customers, business partners and suppliers
Customers, partners or suppliers should not be cited or obviously referenced without their approval. Never identify a customer, partner or supplier by name without permission and never discuss confidential details of a customer engagement. It is acceptable to discuss general details about kinds of projects and to use non-identifying pseudonyms for a customer (e.g., Customer 123) so long as the information provided does not violate any non-disclosure agreements that may be in place with the customer or make it easy for someone to identify the customer. Your blog is not the place to “conduct business” with a customer.
If you see misrepresentations made about Kaos Radio in the media, you may point that out. Always do so with respect and with the facts. If you speak about others, make sure what you say is factual and that it does not disparage that party. Avoid arguments. Brawls may earn traffic, but nobody wins in the end. Don’t try to settle scores or goad competitors or others into inflammatory debates. Make sure what you are saying is factually correct.
Be the first to respond to your own mistakes
If you make an error, be up front about your mistake and correct it quickly. If you choose to modify an earlier post, make it clear that you have done so. If someone accuses you of posting something improper (such as their copyrighted material or a defamatory comment about them), deal with it quickly – better to remove it immediately to lessen the possibility of a legal action.
Think About Consequences
For example, consider what might happen if a Kaos Radio employee is in a meeting with a customer or prospect, and someone on the customer’s side pulls out a print-out of your blog and says “This person at Kaos Radio says that product sucks.”
Saying “Product X needs to have an easier learning curve for the first-time user” is fine; saying “Product X sucks” is risky, unsubtle and amateurish.
Once again, it’s all about judgment: using your blog to trash or embarrass Kaos Radio, our customers, or your co-workers, is dangerous and ill-advised.
Many social media users include a prominent disclaimer saying who they work for, but that they’re not speaking officially. This is good practice and is encouraged, but don’t count on it to avoid trouble – it may not have much legal effect.
Wherever practical, you must use a disclaimer saying that while you work for Kaos Radio, anything you publish is your personal opinion, and not necessarily the opinions of Kaos Radio.
The Station Manager can provide you with applicable disclaimer language and assist with determining where and how to use that.
Don’t forget your day job.
Make sure that blogging does not interfere with your job or commitments to customers.
Social Media Tips
The following tips are not mandatory, but will contribute to successful use of social media.
The best way to be interesting, stay out of trouble, and have fun is to write about what you know. There is a good chance of being embarrassed by a real expert, or of being boring if you write about topics you are not knowledgeable about.
Quality matters. Use a spell-checker. If you’re not design-oriented, ask someone who is whether your blog looks decent, and take their advice on how to improve it.
The speed of being able to publish your thoughts is both a great feature and a great downfall of social media. The time to edit or reflect must be self-imposed. If in doubt over a post, or if something does not feel right, either let it sit and look at it again before publishing it, or ask someone else to look at it first.
Policy violations will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination for cause.