In the past week, news flew about employee comments on social media. In two cases, it was pretty obvious the employees stepped over the line because they posted particularly offensive comments on their company’s official Twitter account.
In another case, a company fired an employee after it won its case before The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) citing what it considered to be an employee’s inappropriate comment on Facebook.
Communicating Your Policy
Does your company have a social media policy that has been communicated and explained to all employees? Do your employees understand it so that your company can avoid embarrassment over the posting of inappropriate content?
Having a policy doesn’t guarantee that the policy is accurate. The NLRB issued a report in May that focused on seven social media policies governing employees’ use of social media.
In six out of seven cases the NLRB found the employer social media policies to be unlawful. Here is the NLRB Social Media Report that describes the NLRB’s decisions in detail.
Where Employees Went Wrong
Here are the posts on corporate Twitter accounts that drew the media likes flies to honey:
Kitchen Aid. After the first Presidential debate, a KitchenAid employee posted this on the company’s Twitter handle: “Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president.” It was meant to go out on the employee’s personal Twitter handle. It drew many angry responses on Twitter.
The company deleted it and sent out this tweet:
StubHub’s embarrassment and anger at this employee’s tweet: “Thank fuck it’s Friday! Can’t wait to get out of this stubsucking hell hole.”. You can imagine
The company removed this post and tweeted:
Drafting Your Company’s Policy
The first step is to draft a social media policy if you don’t have one already. Some companies avoid this because they are afraid that social media is changing so rapidly that the policy won’t cover every contingency. But that just leaves them wide open to employees misuse of social media because they don’t know what’s allowed or not allowed.
Kyle-Beth Hilfer, Esq., an attorney specializing in social media, wrote a post on this topic that offers some excellent advice: Drafting Social Media Policies to Minimize Legal Risk of an NLRB Complaint.
The website Social Media Governance contains 217 corporate social media policies, and the list keeps growing. You can peruse that list for social media policy best practices.
Let Your Employees Socialize
Many companies forbid their employees from engaging in any social media, either for the company or their own personal accounts. This can be counterproductive. First, the company is at a disadvantage with their competitors who are successfully engaging their employees as brand ambassadors on social media.
Secondly, the company loses control over content that employees are posting to social media accounts that do not include their names.
It all comes down to trusting your employees to say and do the right things on social media and 99% of the time they will. Sure, there are exceptions like the KitchenAid and StubHub brouhahas. That’s why they make news.
Employees want to grow in their jobs and they want their companies to be successful. Working together, companies and employees can use the might of social media to create a win-win for both sides.
Does your company have a social media policy? Is it working? If you don’t have a policy, why not?
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