News & Insights

A Social Media Policy Can Save Your Business Money
March 7, 2016
by Daniel Appelget


South Bend / Mishawaka, IN – Our culture is inundated with social networking sites. Facebook is the most visited website of all websites by far. Recent studies indicate that over 65% of all American adults—approximately 68% of women and 62% of men—use social networking sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and many many more). Social media has many undeniable benefits; from staying in touch with a distant relative to reaching new markets for the products and services of your business. But like all things in life, reward comes with risk.

If you’re a business owner, social media use, especially by your employees, may pose substantial risks to your company of which you may not be aware until it’s too late. Here are a few examples of what some companies have had to deal with:

  • A customer service employee’s profane Facebook rant about how much he hates customers of the company.
  • An employee traveling for business tweets: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white.”
  • A pizza delivery driver’s YouTube video of himself sneezing on food and stuffing cheese up his nostrils before delivering it to a customer.
  • A public school teacher posting topless photos of herself on Flickr.
  • A hospital worker posting graphic pictures of herself (in her hospital uniform) in disrespectful poses next to comatose patients.

You are probably shaking your head at the poor decisions of these (now very former) employees. But imagine if this insensitive conduct was associated with your business; imagine if these choices were made by employees wearing your company logo. The effects on your business could be devastating.

One way to mitigate and defend against the potential negative effects of rouge employees who might not always have the best interest of the company in mind is to implement a Social Media Policy. A Social Media Policy is simply a code of conduct that provides guidelines for employees who post content on the internet for professional or personal purposes. Implementing a Social Media Policy can increase efficiency (by limiting the amount of time employees may spend on social networking sites while at work), clarify expectations, safeguard sensitive company information, and protect the reputation of your company. Some general guidelines of what a good Social Media Policy should accomplish are as follows:

  • Extend general company policies and codes of conduct to employees’ online activities.
  • Define when it is acceptable for employees to access social media networking sites while on company time.
  • Define unacceptable “after-hours” online activity that violates company policy and that may subject an employee to discipline and/or termination.
  • Define types of conduct and types of information that should never be shared by an employee via the internet (e.g., confidential/proprietary information, defamatory statements about the company, insulting or harassing co-workers).
  • Implement procedures for how employees should report inappropriate online activity and how employees should handle hostile internet activity.
  • Require that employees keep company-related social media accounts separate from personal social media accounts.

Implementing a Social Media Policy is an effective first step to protecting your company from a myriad of risks posed by internal and external threats. If you need assistance creating a Social Media Policy, or reviewing your company’s current policies, May Oberfell Lorber has an experienced team of employment law attorneys here to help promote online security for you and your business.

The content of this article is for information purposes only, and neither contains nor should be considered legal advice.