For anybody who’s still wondering whether their company should have a social media policy to determine what happens online, the answer is a resounding “yes!”
Here are some reasons to have a social media policy in the office to handle all of the digital communications that go on within a company.
Company Reputation (and Trade Secrets)
With all of the effort that companies put into marketing, the reputation of the business is a valuable asset. Tampering with it is going to cause catastrophic results. That alone is a good argument for having a comprehensive social media policy that governs what employees post online.
This social media policy has to cover what happens at an employee’s desk, as well as what happens after-hours. It has to cover any privileged information that employees may have about their workplace. Even something as innocent as a complaint about a boss, or a sneak peek at developing operations, can be problematic, and that’s why this social media policy has to be well-crafted and include details for employees to follow. It’s a good idea to have a component that addresses the phenomena of BYOD or “bring your own device,” where individual employee smartphones might be used for both business and personal occasions.
Many of today’s industries also have particular standards or regulations for social media use. One primary example is in the healthcare industry. Any business that uses any kind of patient health information, or as it’s called in the law, “protected health information,” has to abide by a set of rules called the health insurance portability and accountability act or HIPAA. This standard requires absolute secrecy for medical details.
The same is true in other kinds of industries, for example in finance, where rules like Sarbanes-Oxley rigidly control the release of certain types of information. A company social media policy must address these standards, and promote and enforce compliance on all levels.
Having a social media policy also protect your individual employees. As career professionals, one wrong social media post can haunt them for the rest of their lives.
An example of this risk is in the field of education. More than a few teachers or administrators have encountered huge stumbling blocks in their careers when personal social media posts leaked or went public. Students and parents use the Internet, too, and anything that’s public beyond a close trusted inner circle of friends can damage a person’s reputation and compromise their careers in significant ways.
Many educators understand this, but some are still relatively naïve about the extent to which social media can intrude on a career. They may not understand that even things posted well before a job starts can jeopardize that job in the future.
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