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Yes, Contractors Need a Social Media Policy

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It’s 2014 and social media is a part of most people’s everyday lives. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, You Tube, or whatever new pops up next; your employees are using social media and likely so is your business. With social media playing such a large role in today’s society, the question begs to be asked, “What’s Your Policy?”

You may think you don’t need a social media policy, but just like all the policies in your employee handbook, this policy is meant to protect both your company and your employees. Having a clear, written policy that you distribute to all employees will ensure everyone knows the expectations when it comes to social media and your company.

What Your Policy Should Include
If you don’t already have a policy on social media, now is a good time to draft one. If you do have one, it may be time to take a look at what your policy says. Here are some tips from Casandra Campbell, a growth coach with Minimalist Marketing, on what you should include in your social media policy:

  1. Your Mission Statement. Most of you have a mission statement and many of you make it a part of everything you do within your company. Repeating your mission statement in your social media policy simply drives home its importance in all facets of your business.
  2. Your Social Media Goals. If your employees don’t know where you are going, how are they going to help you get there? Putting your social media goals in your policy is important to ensuring that everyone knows the desired outcome. Be specific about the goals. For example: Our company will use Facebook to build relationships with customers in our market area.
  3. Roles & Responsibilities. This is probably one of the most important parts of your policy. Everyone involved with your social media strategy needs to know who is doing what — especially if multiple people are managing the same accounts. You want to make sure that each person is complementing the others, so that you have one social media “voice.” 
  4. Appropriate Actions. The point of social media is to interact with the public, so you are going to have a variety of interactions with people from compliments to complaints. Lay out the appropriate actions for each type of interaction you may encounter. You may not be able to predict everything, but try to hit all the most common ones.
  5. Best Practices. Share some best practices in your policy. This will help your employees meet your expectations and create a stronger social presence. 

What About Employee’s Personal Accounts?
Trying to regulate your employee’s personal social media activity can be tricky, and can open you to potential lawsuits. Jeanne Meister, a social media expert and contributing writer for Forbes, suggests that instead of taking a hard stance on social media use, employers should offer social media training that will guide their employees to respectful social media habits. Meister also suggests teaching employees and encouraging them to follow the “5 R’s of social media.” Th e 5 R’s are:

Reason. Use reasonable etiquette, the same as you would offline.

Represent yourself. Anonymous profiles lend themselves to more negative content.

Responsibility. Make sure that what you’re saying is factual, and also that it doesn’t violate any legal guidelines. This includes violating copyright laws with images and content.

Respect. What you say online is a permanent record, so don’t say anything online you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying over a loudspeaker.

Restraint. Before you hit that send button, pause and reread. If you wouldn’t want that particular thought or contribution forever associated with your name, don’t post it.

Meister also advises against requiring your employees to give you access to their personal accounts. This is illegal in some states and will likely cause friction with your employees.

It’s also not a good idea to require employees to connect with you via their personal social media accounts. While some employees may choose to do so, this should always be their choice.

Get Your Policy Reviewed & Don’t Let It Collect Dust
As with any of your employee policies, you should always have your legal counsel review it before distributing to your employees. This will help ensure that you are staying on the right side of the law.

With the social realm changing daily, it is also a good idea to review your policy periodically. Schedule a review for every 5 – 7 months. This review will help you ensure that your policy is helping your company reach its social media goals, that the policy is still relevant, and that it incorporates any changes to social media or laws.

Remember, your social media policy is meant to protect everyone in your company. If you create a fair policy that clearly states your expectations, everyone will win. And since social media isn’t going away anytime soon, you better get started on writing your policy today, if you don’t already have one!

Posted In: ACCA Now, Technology

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