Shocked by the image?  Imagine how it would feel if this is what your clients saw on your company’s Facebook page.  If you do not have any parameters in place for what your employees can and cannot do on social networks, there’s not a whole lot you can do if they decide to post something ugly. Sad to say, we have seen images just like this posted by an employee with a company’s name stamped all over it.

So how do you protect your company when your employees go online?

You have social media guidelines, policies and procedures in writing that every staff member signs. There should be no miscommunication in this area or you open yourself up to potential lawsuits.

Here are a few issues that could arise if you do NOT have a policy in place:

  • Employee and/or client confidentiality can be compromised if you don’t know what employees are doing online with your  company name
  • Employees may leave and take profiles or groups they’ve created for the company with them
  • If you are a financial institution, conversations within Linkedin groups cannot be tracked – which can be a violation of SEC guidelines.
  • Someone can “steal” your brand and start up their own (non-competes don’t always cover online media)
  • Miscommunication can run rampant!  One or two tweets that are misunderstood can harm your brand because others continue to retweet it
  • Employees spamming prospects can get you blacklisted
  • Employees may behave poorly on their own personal profiles but they have your company linked as their employer so the behavior also reflects poorly on you.

If you do not currently have a policy, it’s advisable to at least put a document together that includes two critical sections:

(1) Social Media Guidelines: This section should be one or two pages summarizing how your organization can be more effective at using social media. It should NOT be about control, but more on how to use the tools effectively.  It SHOULD lay out parameters around organizational and personal use.  There should also be some guidelines around employees who leave the company and the process in which they are removed as admins.

(2) Social Media Policy: This section refers specifically to your organization and includes all the rules you expect your employees to follow as long as they are employed by your company.