Employee Policies For Social Media Participation

by Jason Falls |

Does your company support your participation in social media? Are you apprehensive about admitting you work there when you comment on blogs, participate in forums or list your workplace or contact information on social networks?

Employee AshesChances are those of you reading this blog have discussed your social media participation with your employers or you work for yourself, so the questions are more rhetorical than direct. But think about the millions of people out there who either choose to separate themselves from their professional life in online activities or are forced to do so.

Organizations have every right to fear employees identifying themselves as such online, especially if the company doesn’t have a clear communications policy or training for such outreach. The reasons range anywhere from legal issues to inappropriate comments made about competition, other employees or the company itself. Individuals, likewise, have every right to participate in social media outside the office and to keep their work and play lives separate.

But what about the employee who is as proud of working there as anything? What about the companies smart to the fact that their employees are often times their biggest brand enthusiasts and should be let loose on the world wide web to spread the good news?

If you’re laughing at that last possibility, let me assure you there are some.

Earlier this week, I was asked to develop a policy for employee participation in social media. The impetus was because the brand recognizes that people out there are talking about them whether they are participating or not. They not only want to participate, they want to encourage their employees to do so as well. But, like any corporation, they know there must be guidelines. Here are my initial suggestions.

SIX RULES FOR EFFECTIVE EMPLOYEE PARTICIPATION IN SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. Be honest.
  2. Always clearly identify that you work for the company, but don’t necessarily speak for the company.
  3. Respect our competition.
  4. Never write or say anything you wouldn’t say in front of your boss.
  5. When you don’t know, say, “I don’t know, but I’ll try to find out.” Then try to find out and respond.
  6. Avoid arguments and direct discussions with those derogatory about the brand. If pressed, direct them to the public relations/customer service department for better information.

None of these are always true for every organization (except the honesty one, in my opinion) but should outline a set of easy-to-understand parameters for employee participation in social media. The question is whether or not this list is enough? Are there other policies that should be included? Are there angles to employee interaction I’ve missed?

Take a brief moment to jump in the comments section and tell me what you think. Should companies allow employees to raise their hand as brand enthusiasts and participate in social networks, blog comments and more? I promise to collect suggestions and repost a polished list of rules next week.

Other Posts You’ll Find Interesting:

  1. The Social Media Rift Between Employees And Companies
  2. Stifling Social Interaction
  3. Does Your Company Support Employee Blogging?
  4. Consequences For Not Having A Blogging Policy
  5. Social Media Policy: Corporate, Personal Responsibility

IMAGE:Ashes of Problem Employees” by mio_pls on Flickr.

[tags]employee policy, social media, social media rules, participation, privacy, personal, professional, social networking[/tags]

About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).