In the last five years, we've seen a social media explosion. With such quick expansion, some companies have probably had their first mishap or uh-oh before it even entered their minds to write a social media policy. In the backlash to avoid future incidents or misunderstandings, some businesses have developed surprisingly strict policies—so strict that their own legal policy might not itself be legal.
It's tough to know where to draw the line—and how to accept that the permissible line might not be in a comfortable place for you. If you can't make the rules as exact as you want them to be, is it possible to convey a sense of unwritten rules instead? In our research, we've seen multiple-page policies and we've see single-sentence policies. Here's what we've gleaned:
Companies that have a rigorous hiring process, and choose candidates who fit with their core values, can enjoy the luxury of a simpler, more loosely defined social media policy. Why? Because the people they hire are on their side. Their employees have no problem walking the talk, because they chose it, and it chose them.
They would no more betray their employer than they would anyone with which they have a trusting, mutually respectful relationship. That, of course, is an ideal scenario, that, if you're not one of the Googles or Zappos of the world, you might not get to play out. If you can't dictate what your employees do on social media, or tell them who they should or shouldn't be friends with, and you don't have that airtight relationship that ensures they will never, ever do wrong…what then?
When it comes to social media sharing, we often learn the price of our activity after we've paid the consequences. You can avoid that with your employees by training them upfront. Present them with scenarios that could potentially unfold from certain kinds of behavior. This could be the loss of respect and trust of their coworkers if indiscretions are too openly shared, or the impact on profitability, should a comment go viral and damage your company's reputation. By helping them understand the potential magnitude of seemingly simple acts, they're better equipped to self-regulate.
*Statistic source: bna.com