A Realistic Company Social Media Policy


How many employers have this or a similar type of policy for their firm?

  • For reasons of safety and to avoid potential computer viruses as well as to allow the company to properly function:
    • You can not access the server to go onto the internet for any purpose or to any site.
    • Access to personal instant messaging, blogs, message boards, chat rooms, unauthorized sites (community sites such as Linked In, Facebook, You Tube) is not allowed, and attachments are not allowed.
    • Access to personal email is prohibited.
  • Prohibited use of e-mail, blogs, chat-rooms, instant messaging includes, but is not limited to ….

Is this enforceable? How? If you have this policy you need to enforce it all the time for all members of the team, including management. Otherwise you are liable for discrimination, harassment and/or unfair treatment allegations.

Social media is everywhere and growing larger and larger. I believe that management-driven, no-access policies are unenforceable. You are asking employees who do this regularly during their off-hours to stop completely at work. As an example—how easy would it be to enforce a “no caffeine” policy at work? You can drink coffee, soda, tea before and after work but never on company premises. How could you enforce that policy?

Can employees be productive and still use social media responsibly? You have to protect company information and equipment and ensure your firm remains productive. Many successful corporations, such as IBM, have social media and virtual world guidelines.

Remain productive, adhere to compliance regulations and maintain proper security by building a social media policy from the ground-up:

1.  Begin with understanding. In most firms, there is a diversity of culture and generations. Some people use social media more often than others. Have a conversation with employees about your current social media or computer policies. Do they make sense?

2.  Have a training program on the proper techniques for using the internet. Employees who know how to use the internet properly can be trainers for others who don’t. Use your technology consultant to help explain using the computer reliably and safely.

Some things to be aware of, even when using social media on personal time:

  • What you say is public domain and accessible by anyone. Postings, comments, tweets, blogs have been used in lawsuits. References and commendations online have been used in unlawful termination suits.
  • Be careful to decide if you are representing the company or posting personal comments, tweets, blogs, etc.
  • Be respectful of yourself, the company and others. Respect the privacy of others (including companies).

3.  Tie in the social media company policy to firm productivity and individual performance. Ask employees how the company might continue outstanding productivity and use social media effectively.

Remember: whenever you are creating or changing workplace policies, you need to consult with experts in human resource and law to be aware of local, state and federal regulations.

This blog is meant for general discussion purposes and is the personal opinion of the author. If you’d like more information on what to include in a social media company policy, feel free to send me an email: marydunlapconsulting@verizon.net.

Mary Dunlap, CFP®
Mary Dunlap Consulting
Pottstown, Pa.

2 thoughts on “A Realistic Company Social Media Policy

  1. You have done a good job to lay out the requirements of a social media policy. In my opinion, it is very important that the policy be expressed to the companies employees. When things are left unsaid that is when we get in trouble. For instance, say one of your employees feels it is safe to make remarks about the company online and one happens to be negative. For the companies sake, and for their sake, they need to know that that information can be made easily public and they could get in trouble. I’ve reviewed a few policies and i have to say that i really like HPs social media policy. Also, IBM has a good policy if you want to keep things a little bit more tightly regulated. Overall i think this is a good post. I have written a blog on this as well at: http://www.seoinc.com/seo-blog/company-social-media-policy/

    There is also some good information in there. I think where companies need to be the most careful is on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Would you agree?

  2. you have done a good job to lay out the requirements of a social media policy. i like it.

Leave a Reply