The Importance of the Right Social Media Policy

The growth of various social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, has given individuals the ability to connect with other users across the globe and share their personal views with the general public. Because of the public exposure, users who post controversial or unpopular opinions, whether it is a private citizen, a television personality or the president, can quickly find themselves embroiled in public controversy.

Unfortunately, when a social media post gains negative attention, it can also result in backlash against their employer. How can an employer protect itself from unwillingly being affected by an employee’s social media post? To avoid or defend against such situations, employers should have clear policies on social media use that are consistently enforced for all employees.

Any social media policy should attempt not only to prohibit employees from unauthorized posts on behalf of the company, but also to provide employers with a way to limit the damage that occurs in the event this does happen. Below are several tips you should consider when creating a robust social media policy:

1. Require that employees specify that any opinions expressed on their personal social media accounts are their own

2. Offer clear guidance as to what is and is not acceptable

3. Make clear that employees should not share company or client confidential or proprietary information

4. Consider whether employees should be allowed to connect with customers or vendors through the company’s social media

5. Provide clear guidelines for how violations of the policy will be handled

6. Enforce any policy in a neutral manner

Keep in mind that each workplace is different, with different social media goals and likely different policies to address those goals. By working proactively to have a clear and consistently enforced social media policy, employers may be able to prevent and/or limit negative effects which may result from its employees’ social media postings.

Contact info: Meredith S. Campbell Chair, Employment and Labor Group, Shulman Rogers [email protected] | T 301.255.0550 | F 301.230.2891