By Harpaul Sambhi
In my previous blog, I spoke about some of the legal cases that can arise when using social networks. So companies are now going to great lengths to ensure the corporation, and employees, are safely using it without creating any harm.
Here are some ways to reduce the risk of violating a social media policy and partake in online activities.
Social media policies
Current policies can be amended or new social media policies can be created to protect organizations from most of the risks inherent in this new technology.
To begin with, a good social media policy should clearly define what social media is. Social media includes, but is not limited to, social networks, professional networks, virtual worlds, blogs, wikis, video distribution and aggregating websites, micromedia websites, forums, internal social networks, podcasts and picture-sharing websites.
The policy should also include examples of social media to ensure employees know Facebook is a personal social network, LinkedIn is a professional network and Twitter is a microblog — and all are covered by the policy. Having a policy that is both broad enough to include all forms of social media, yet provides specific examples, will ensure the policy is far-reaching and unambiguous.
It’s also important to review social media policies at least once per year to keep pace with changes in technology and ensure the organization is protected. Employers also need to ensure the policies, and consequences for violating them, are clearly communicated to employees. Consequences could include discipline or termination if the violation causes significant damage to the employer’s reputation or business interests, or shows the employee isn’t able to perform his job.
The following are some elements to be considered in the creation of a social media policy. As always, organizations should consult a lawyer when making any changes to existing policies or creating new ones.
Disclaimers and disclosures
Employees who blog, for example, should include a disclaimer stating the material and information on the blog do not reflect the views of the organization. The disclaimer could take the following form: “The views expressed in articles and comments published on (website or group) are those of the author’s alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of (company), any of its subsidiaries or its staff.”
Corporate logos, trademarks and email signatures should not be used in any personal communication online. If an employee is using social media as a representative of the organization, he should receive training from corporate communications or public relations on appropriate messaging.
Confidentiality is probably the cornerstone of most social networking policies. Many organizations already have policies in place governing the release of confidential and proprietary information. These should be updated to include social media or can be added to the new social media policy.
Many employees are unaware that posting confidential or damaging information on social media is the same as leaking it to a newspaper, television show or a competitor. In some ways, releasing confidential information on social media can be even more harmful because it can spread like wildfire online.