We live in a digital age and social media has been responsible for the success of many businesses. This week marks the 25th anniversary of the internet. The internet allows us to communicate with others across the globe and spread news faster than ever before.

 

Some might even say that a social media presence is essential to business if they wish to interact with the wider public. Yet many organisations big and small do not have a social media policy.

 

Like any public relations, social media should be monitored and regulated by businesses. It is easy for a picture of phrase to become misconstrued and cause offence which in turn can damage the reputation of any business or indeed individual.

 

Last month the royal family showed pictures of the young Prince George on his third birthday. The pictures were delightful and probably intended for the public to feel a connection to the young royal. However, there was one picture which caused outrage. This was the picture of the young prince offering his dog an ice cream. Animal lovers took to social media to complain that feeding ice cream to dogs was unacceptable. Resulting in RSPCA issuing a warning about giving ice cream to dogs. This is just one of many examples of how social media can go wrong.

 

As a business you may have a company Linkedin page which you require your staff to update and write blogs for. If this is the case you should ensure that all material is in keeping with the business ethics and branding. How much control you have is up to you. Some businesses provide templates to ensure that all information is reflective of the brand.

 

Then there are company contacts and connections. Relationship is everything at the moment and staff are encouraged to build a network and a following. However you should  consider who owns that data at the end of the employment relationship.  Do you intend for the contacts to be the property of the company? If the answer is yes, this should be stated in a social media policy.

 

It might sound obvious but a business should endeavour to protect its precious information such as intellectual property,  trade secrets, current or future trading performance. If this is not communicated to staff there is a risk that this information could be leaked on social media.

 

You should also pose guidance on personal accounts held by staff members on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Pinterest. Firstly you should ask employees to state that any views on each forum is their own and not that of the company. This simple task may save the business embarrassment in the future.

 

Employees and workers should be told that may be disciplined for any offensive or derogatory material posted on their personal page even if it is posted privately. Employment tribunal cases have shown us that even private content is not considered to be private once it is posted onto social media.

 

However, a social media policy should be fluid and have the ability to be adapted. We should not be afraid of social media or cause fear. Implementing  a clear a simple policy is another way of communication expectation between you and your staff which in turn makes for a better working environment.
If you after reading this post you feel as though your business could benefit from a sound social media policy. Email info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk to see how we can help.

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