Published August 24, 2011

How to Write Your Small Business Social Media Policy

Because of the widespread use of social media, you see more and more news about companies who fire employees after they post a negative comment on their personal Facebook or Twitter account. Because the work you do may be sensitive in nature, and the persona you present to clients and customers is important, it is also important to establish a sound social media policy for your employees.

One reason a social media policy is of vital importance is due to the fact that many of the employees who were fired by their employers due to social media activity have filed suit against them. According to a recent article on the Huffington Post, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been investigating hundreds of claims of improper firings and inquiring about employers' social media policies.

Therefore, we highly encourage you to establish a social media policy that clearly outlines activity on any of your company's social media accounts, as well as how your employees should approach their own personal accounts when it comes to anything business-related.

What To Include in Your Social Media Policy

Company social media account policy
This should include everything from creating each company account, branding for each account, and who manages, alters, or posts to any social media account.

Company blog policy
If your company maintains a blog, your social media policy should be clear as to who is responsible for it, what content should be posted (and what content should not), and how the blog should be promoted on other social media.

Company comment or messaging policy
This should pertain to any comments or messages on any blog or social media account. While commenting and discussion should be encouraged, it is also wise to monitor and approve comments to avoid improper branding or negative company image.

Also, if any of your employees actively comment on your company social media channels, they should clearly state that they are an employee, and that their views are strictly their own and do not reflect the company's views.

Policy regarding employee personal blogs and social media accounts
It is very likely that your employees will be using their own social media accounts and/or personal blogs. And while it is common for employees to want to 'vent' about their workplace on their social media channels, it is important for you to be very clear with your guidelines about company mentions and consequences if the guidelines are not adhered to.

Thing to consider:

  • Any mention of company name - You should assert that if your company name is used, it should never be in a negative light. You might even make it a blanket policy to avoid the use of your company name at all.
  • Company logo - Any use of your company logo should be by prior approval only.
  • Private client info - Your client and customer information should always be kept private. There should be no mention of your customers by name, description, or any other disclosure of their private info including phone, address, etc.

Keep in mind while you create your social media policy that you should get your employees' input. Not only will you be informing them of your intent of a new policy, but your employees may have valuable input to the content of the policy - and even ideas on how to better promote your business through social media channels.

Implementing Your New Policy

Be sure you announce your new social media policy to your employees. It may need to be noted that the new policy is an addendum to the company employee agreement, and signature of understanding is required. Share with them in a memo or email the reasons you created the new policy, the policy outlines, and the consequences of any failure to adhere to the new policy. You might even introduce the new policy in a company meeting. Educate them as best you can as to what is expected of them so they are clear as to their own behaviors.

As mentioned, you should require that each of your employees sign the new policy so that have stated for the record that they have read and understood the new policy.

A small business social media policy is a wise choice. Don't get left behind without a policy and be forced to deal with unwanted situations, especially when it comes to disciplining or terminating an employee due to social media use. Use this guideline to help you form your own policy.