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Why businesses must have a Social Media HR Policy?

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Are you using key Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus to promote your business? Do your staff understand their responsibilities on how to use Social media for your business? Do you have a well defined Social Media Strategy in place which is already communicated to your staff? If the answer is NO then read on….. . . .

Are you using key Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus to promote your business? Do your staff understand their responsibilities on how to use Social media for your business? Do you have a well defined Social Media Strategy in place which is already communicated to your staff? If the answer is NO then read on…..

In a time when employers are requesting for employees Facebook passwords, and personnel getting fired for comments on Facebook, there seems to be a clear case for drafting a social media policy for HR. Employees are posting on Twitter, sharing on Facebook, and pinning on Pinterest. How can a policy address this latest liability for businesses?

Before drafting a social media HR policy, ask yourself what you hope to achieve by it and what social media platforms are most vulnerable.  In order to address the HR issues completely, you need to have a fundamental understanding of each major social media channel and how it can be used by employees.

Drafting the Social Media Policy

  1. As an introductory measure, ensure that the employees understand the purpose of socialmedia and why it used by the company. Take a positive stance and highlight how social media can be utilised within the company as opposed to detailing how it cannot be used.  Ensure that employees understand that the policy it not a restriction but about presenting a united business front to the customers and global audience, and adhering to it will help protect the company from PR disasters.
  2. Secondly, employees need to have a clear understanding of why the company utilises each social media network and the marketing strategy behind it. For example, if you are in the hospitality industry – specifically hotels, then you probably use Twitter to communicate directly with your guests regarding special offers, upgrades, restaurant bookings and to provide a personal touch. Your employees need to understand that when they use their Twitter accounts and cite the company, these are the only situations under which it can be used. Random posts about the company in Twitter are not welcome.
    If the social media platform is Facebook, employees need to be vigilant of the types of posts that they tag the company on, pictures and videos uploaded. Educate them on the case studies of the PR disaster that the company could face in event of compromising information being posted on social media.  We all know the story of Domino’s and the YouTube video gone bad, which was posted by a couple of employees.
  3. Furthermore, the social media policy needs emphasise that employees should take ownership of what they post. That they are basically responsible for what they write and anything they say could say could be harmful and lead to losing their jobs.
  4. Define the rules of how employees can engage via social media. There is never going to be an all encompassing document that is a know all and tell all, but employees need to understand the consequences for their actions. That this is a BUSINESS communication medium and they need to use common sense when posting, tweeting and tagging.
  5. The policy needs to define the concept of community, rules of sharing, copyrights and the levels of interaction. For example, if there is a customer complain via Twitter or Facebook how they are allowed to deal with this. Are they allowed to give free upgrades for a legitimate complain? Are they allowed to give discounts? What’s the percentage of the discount they are allowed to give, etc. ..
  6. Empower your employees by emphasising that they are part of the larger community and that you trust them. That they have the freedom to increase customer experiences within the given guidelines.
  7. How is the communication mechanisim going to take place? What is the email address they should use? What is the tone, jargon and language they should use? All this is extremely important in setting the stage for presenting not just a united business front but also revealing the human face of the organisation.
  8. At a strategic level, you need to make a decision on how many hours employees are allowed to spend on social media? Are all staff allowed access to social media? How are you going to deal with social media related disasters, harassments and policy breaches? How will you monitor what is being posted by your staff via social media?
  9. Get people involved when drafting your social media HR policy. Ask you employees what they think should be included. You might be surprised with the input and insight they provide.
  10. Have a Do’s and Dont’s section that gives clear instructions on the restrictions of social media usage.

With the advent of social media and its obvious usages for business, there is a dire need for a social media HR policy within organisations. The usage of smart phones and tablets are further complicating the process, with employees checking –in to locations, and posting topical information without realising the broader implications of it. Overall, the social media policy needs to highlight that this is just a guideline to help avoid disasters for both the company and the individual. It is also extremely advisable to add the social media policy to the employee handbook, so that neither party is confused.

Lastly, it is important to understand that this cannot be a one –off policy. There will always be points you miss with changes to social media platform. The popularity of Pinterest is a good example of this. If you had a policy prior to Pinterest you would not have rules on what can be Pinned. Now however you need to include this. But, having a social media policy will save you the headaches of long term damage to your brand and business.

About Logan Nathan

Social Media Business Consultant | Internet (Web) Marketing Strategist Speaker | Trainer

Based in Sydney, Australia, Logan has been an avid & passionate social media user since the advent of Facebook. Logan runs his own workshops on the social media for business in Australia. He has also written a number of eBooks on the same subjects (Social Media Secrets for your Business, Twitter Secrets for Your Business and Social Media Startup Guide for Business), all of which are now published and available online. Logan is also a passionate speaker on the subject of using ‘Internet and Social Media for Business’ and spoken at number of Business conferences in Australia and overseas. As the Social Media Business Consultant, Logan is focused on guiding organisations through the four stages of social media for business – Education, Strategy, Implementation and On-going Management. If your business needs expert assistance on creating a custom Social Media Strategy or HR Policy, contact us via sales@logannathan.com

Watch testimonials from Logan’s latest workshops on http://www.youtube.com/logannathan

Book your seat at the upcoming workshops, refer http://www.ictsocialbusiness.com.au/social_media_education/social-media-training-workshop