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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Patron Blog: Why do employers need to have effective social media policies?

More than just a way of keeping up with friends and family, social media is a powerful tool that offers businesses a way of reaching out to new audiences. 

Regardless of whether your business has a large or small social media presence, in the digital world, your employees act as representatives of your brand and how they behave can have a significant impact on the reputation of your business. 

Zee Hussain, Partner and Head of Corporate Services at Simpson Millar, discusses why it's important for employers to have effective social media policies in place:   

What Does A Good Social Media Policy Cover?

When writing or updating a social media policy, employers should aim to strike a balance between protecting their reputation and also encouraging employees to engage with the business.

Although employers might use social media for different purposes, a well-written policy should be clearly communicated to all staff and include the following:

Outline what is acceptable for employees to do when using social media – effective social media policies don't just tell employees what they shouldn't do – they can be really useful ways of getting employees to raise brand awareness outside of the workplace.

But, they need to be told that this should be done in an appropriate way that isn't to the detriment of the business.

It's useful to give examples of what would be acceptable for them to do, for example sharing tweets posted from your business' Twitter account or leaving constructive comments on posts on any other accounts you have.

Be clear about the consequences of your employees' actions online – whilst supporting your employees' use of social media can have its advantages, you should set clear boundaries about what employees cannot do online and define what consequences they will face if they breach the policy.

For example, if they engage in prohibited behaviour, will this lead to disciplinary action?

Encourage your employees to check their privacy settings – privacy settings tend to change quite frequently, so it's a good idea to remind your employees to check them on a regular basis.

Data protection and monitoring – if you believe that it's necessary to monitor how your employees are using social media then you must justify why in the policy.

Include guidelines for employees who are using the company's social media accounts – any employee who is sharing information and expressing views on behalf of your business should also be given some guidance on ensuring that their communication and actions online are in line with the brand's values.

Whether you're reviewing or developing your social media policy, Simpson Millar's legal experts are on hand to help you identify how well your existing policy is working and whether any improvements can be made.

Used correctly by your business and employees, you'll find that social media can prove to be a very effective marketing tool.


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