Social Media in business and the importance of an “Acceptable Use Policy”
Acceptable Use Policy and its importance to your business
The Risk Social Media can Pose to your Business
Social media has become THE communications medium of the twenty-first century. As a result, companies large and small have discovered that it is a simple thing to suffer negative repercussions from the misuse of social media. Whether the source of the damage is a poorly-developed and executed advertising or promotional campaign, or by employees posting to social media sites regarding work-related matters, or even private information about themselves and their personal lives which can negatively affect their place of employment, it is oftentimes irreparable once it is done. Everything from disgruntled employees who post negative commentary about their workplace or employees to those who have posted photos or videos of other employees engaging in improper conduct in the workplace, to those who post confidential information regarding their place of employment, its policies, practices, etc, social media can bring a great number of problems to a business place.
Why an Acceptable Use Policy is Necessary
Social media poses a great number of possible risks to the reputation of a business when used irresponsibly by the employees or other associates of that business. It is for this reason an Acceptable Use Policy is necessary to be put into place for any place of business. Social media reputation management is as important as any medium in which the company's reputable standing is represented to the public. Employees, business partners and colleagues, including other companies with which business is done, all must be subject to a customized Acceptable Use Policy. This policy must address and outline rules and regulations for such topics as the discussion of company policies and practices via social media, revelation of privileged company information or discussion of such in any manner via social media, the posting of photographs taken inside or on the grounds of the facility or of any employees of the company, revelation of any confidential company information, negative postings of any type with relation to anything having to do with the company, and the like. While there is a fine line separating freedom of speech and policy violation, once an employee has been apprised of the company's policy regarding such matters and they have signed an agreement to adhere to it, they are then liable for anything they post to social media with regards to their place of employment. A company's reputation online for business purposes must be maintained, and social media reputation management is tantamount in the twenty-first century, as social media stands as such an influential form of communication and advertisement.
Developing an Acceptable Use Policy for your Business
Every business should create for itself a customized, comprehensive Acceptable Use Policy with regard to its employees and associates and the use of social media where the company is concerned. It is best to be as specific and as thorough as possible in the creation of an Acceptable Use Policy so as to avoid any confusion once the policy is presented to all who will be required to adhere to it. Take some time to research similar policies implemented by other businesses and glean ideas for an effective policy. By covering such topics as the posting of any information regarding the company's policies and procedures, business practices, clients, other employees, etc, as well as the prohibiting of posting photos taken inside of the facility and on the grounds or of coworkers, employees are made to understand that it is not up to their discretion as to whether it is acceptable or harmless to post a particular thing; they are expressly forbidden to do so. The policy should also cover such topics as employees posting in an disgruntled fashion regarding their workplace, prohibiting any postings that would cast a negative light on the company. Do some online research as well, so as to ascertain what types of things have been posted by employees of other companies which have caused problems for the business, and incorporate rules about those things as well. It is imperative to be thorough n the creation of the Acceptable Use Policy, as any loophole may be grounds for policy violation that cannot be upheld.
How to Create an Acceptable Use Policy for Social Media
Creating a comprehensive Acceptable Use Policy to apply to social media use should be done immediately for any business which has not done so already. In the modern day social media is the new television advertisement and promotion, taking the place of traditional TV commercials. Oftentimes, employees are so accustomed to posting every aspect of life to social media that they do not stop to realize that in doing so where their employment is concerned, they may well be bringing negative attention to the company or to co-workers. They also stand the risk of revealing confidential company information by doing something so seemingly innocent as posting photos taken inside the facility; photos of friends, for example, which may reveal details in the background that the company does not want made public for any number of reasons: revealing trade secrets to competitors, the possibility of safety or security breaches, the identities of coworkers who may not wish their place of employment revealed on social media, etc. It is important to take all aspects and all possibilities for damage into consideration in creating a policy. A Social Media Risk Management Policy should specifically detail what is expected of employees who engage in social media use where their place of employment and their work are concerned. It must outline very specifically what is expected and what is expressly prohibited in reference to social media posting. It must also pointedly outline the consequences of any breach of policy, disciplinary steps and what will be considered grounds for suspension or immediate dismissal.
The risks of failing to implement an Acceptable Use Policy for a business with regard to social media can include disgruntled employees posting any sort of negative, unprofessional, even inaccurate information regarding the company, revealing trade secrets or other confidential information which competitors may utilize to cause harm or loss, information whether accurate or inaccurate which will present the company to the public in an unappealing light thereby causing a loss in customers, clients, revenue, etc.
Its a simple preventative measure that is critical in the ever changing and expanding, world wide web.