By Slater Heelis, Manchester based law firm

Striking the right balance with your social media policy

With billions of active social media users around the world, it comes as no surprise that many businesses are choosing to take action and implement social media policies.

A social media policy provides you with the opportunity to set out what is deemed as the appropriate and inappropriate use of social media by employees. But with so many people using social media to voice their honest opinions and thoughts, how far should you go?

Read our guide to find out how to strike the right balance with your social media policy.

Why do you need a policy?

Social media policies have become a very important document for businesses in the digital age, as social media misuse can have such a damaging effect on your reputation.

Consider your employees

It is important to consider your employees when shaping your policy. While you want to make sure your business is covered against any liability, you don’t want your employees to feel as though they are unable to speak freely, especially in their time outside of work.

If you are worried about how to approach certain areas, it is recommended that you consult an employment law solicitor. As they will have experience in handling social media policies, they will be able to support you when drawing up the guidelines so that you can do so with upsetting employees.

What to include in your social media policy

A competent social media policy should contain information on:

• Network security

A clause on network security will help to prevent potential viruses from affecting work computers, as it should clearly map out what your employees can and cannot download.

• Social networking websites

The section discussing social media usage should cover areas such as privacy settings, bullying and harassment, along with appropriate and inappropriate use of the websites when speaking on behalf on your company and privately.

• Intellectual property

You should outline what is classed as intellectual property and what information can and cannot be posted on social media. As your work is your most valuable asset, it is crucial that it is protected.

• Representing the company

If employees produce social media posts and blogs on behalf of your company, you must set guidelines as to what information they can disclose, what you see as acceptable behaviour and copyright rules they must abide by.

• Smart devices

As technology advances, there becomes more ways to access social media. You will need to create and regularly update the section detailing how your employees can access social media through said devices, while ensuring that is remains related to work.

• Disciplinary procedures

Your policy should outline the disciplinary procedures in place and the standards of conduct with regards to online problems. It is recommended that your disciplinary procedures for online issues reflect those for offline misconduct.

Shaping your policy together

Working with your employees to create your social media policy can help you to put the necessary procedures and guidelines into place, while keeping your workforce happy.

Your employees’ happiness and satisfaction is just as important as safeguarding your business, so involving them in the early stages of your policy will give them the opportunity to say if they feel that anything is unreasonable so that you can work to build a policy that everyone is satisfied with.