Facebook in the Workplace

Facebook and work. Generally these two terms are fraught with danger when they are placed in the same sentence. Not to mention the sometimes heated debates that occur in the workplace as to whether employees should be allowed to access Facebook at work. There are positives and negatives for each side of the debate, but whether you like it or not, Facebook is here to stay and for the moment it isn’t going anywhere!

Recently Amovita Consulting delivered our very popular two day SuperVISION for High Performance training presentation with 18 high level managers and senior executives. During the presentation we briefly discussed Facebook in the workplace. At the presentation we did a very quick ‘raise of hands’ survey and found that around 40% – 50% of the participants don’t have a social media policy; we also found that 60% – 70% of the group had also been involved in disciplinary discussions over Facebook in the workplace (either its use in the workplace or content employees post on Facebook.)

Whether or not your company is active on social media, your employees probably are.  So you should have a policy.  Over the course of the last few years Amovita Consulting has been involved in writing and reviewing social media polies and it is becoming clear that social media policies have some kind of anatomy. Of course, there is not a “one size fits all” solution since every company has its own needs and wants.  We would like to share with you what we have seen as best practice components in social media policies.

Here are the different sections one could have in a policy*:

1. Why do you have a social media policy? In general employees sometimes don’t like policies.  But protecting the reputation of your company is every employee’s duty and that is what a policy should attempt to achieve.  You can carve your policy in such a way that your employees are your ambassadors.

2. What is social media? Most of your employees have a limited view of what social media really is.  It is more than Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  A good definition of what you as company understand under social media will help you set the scene.

3. Which social media and networks are we talking about? It is good idea to name the major different social media platforms, what they are best used for and what the benefits and dangers are.

4. To whom does the policy apply? Different types of people are working in companies.  Of course you have employees of which some are spokespeople.  Many companies also employ contractors or free-lancers and you need to decide whether your policy will also apply to these people.  You might need a contract for them.

5. How to get access to social media? In some companies you still need to ask permission to access the internet and/or social media. We tend to think that this practice is becoming extinct but still many companies block access to social media for the majority of their employees under the umbrella of "productivity loss."  That is what the social media policy is trying to address.

6. Definition of Terms In this section you will define the difference between policy and guideline, personal vs professional use, employee vs spokesperson, etc.

7. Social Media Policy It is clear that some items must be policy (use of logo’s, spokepeople, disclaimers, creation and ownership of accounts, etc.)

  • For spokespeople
  • For employees
  • For contractors

8. Social Media guidelines The social media guideline will help your employees protect their own reputation and thus also the reputation of the company.  In this section you will find items such as authenticity, correct errors, honesty, suggestion of identity and email addresses, etc.

9. Where can you your company on social media? And how are you using it? Do not assume that your employees know what social media you are using as a company.  A lot of companies do not mention their accounts on website and leave it up to their employees to discover where they are.  This practice will make sure that all your employees know what the official accounts are. It is also a best practice to tell your employees what you are using these social media accounts for. 

10. How do you handle mentions (positive and negative)? We all know that companies and people are talked about.  Many companies have some kind of social media monitoring but many more do not.  So if your employees who can be your eyes and ears in social media (provided they are your ambassadors) see any message, they need to know what the procedure is to handle these mentions or posts.

11. Where do you get help for your Social Media As companies are gearing up for social media, it is also a good idea to setup a help desk or a social media help account (which could be any employee within the company).  Indicate in your policy who these people are and where you can get the necessary training.

12. Tips and tricks Nothing works better to create ambassadors than provide tips and trick so you should include examples with tips and tricks. We understand that including all these sections can lead to a long document that people might not read which brings me to a final point about a social media policy.  The key to success is the roll out phase. That’s the moment where you can create a simple hand-out or give-away that supports the introduction and announcement of the policy.  You can really get creative with this and get a lot of support for your policy.

 

Amovita Consulting can support your organisation in developing a social media policy and we can also provide supports to your Senior Managers and Human Resources team if you find yourself in a ‘Facebook Crisis’. Contact Amovita Consulting today to discuss how we can support you and your company’s social media approaches.

* Source: Social Media Policy, Social Media Today, March 2012