Tips for Smart Social Media Policies for Businesses9th May, 2022
Social media is used commonly by adults in every age group, according to the Pew Research Center. As of 2021, anywhere from about 75% to 85% of adults aged 18 to 64 reported that they regularly use at least one social media site, and many use more than one social media site with frequency. Given that many businesses shifted their workplaces during the pandemic so that employees could work remotely—and that many employees continue to work remotely on a full-time or part-time basis—it is particularly important for employers to consider a social media policy. It is important for businesses to make clear for workers when and how they can use social media, and what constitutes a misuse of social media.
Nearly every business in the US should have a social media policy. The following are tips for smart social media policies for businesses.
Use of Social Media During Work Hours
For employees who work remotely, as well as for those working at the business in-person, it is important for businesses to clarify whether employees are permitted to use social media at work. It may be possible to prohibit social media use at work. If your business allows employees to use social media, it will be important to clarify what type of material can be posted while the employee is at work.
Businesses across the U.S. should provide employees with clear guidelines concerning what type of social media content is appropriate, and what is inappropriate. Employers can prohibit employees from making certain types of harmful or damaging comments about the business. Employers should also make clear that posting inappropriate or defamatory material, as well as trade secrets, is prohibited regardless of whether the employee is on social media during working hours.
It is critical to ensure that any policy concerning inappropriate content does not violate federal law and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), employees can engage in “protected concerted activity,” and that kind of activity can take place on social media. Examples of protected concerted activity can include discussions of work conditions and pay.
Official and Unofficial Uses of Social Media
Most businesses do not permit employees to post in an official capacity, and it is important to clarify that employees cannot speak for the business on their social media accounts. Employees can only speak for themselves in an unofficial capacity unless they are tasked with managing the business’s official social media accounts.
Clarify When Employees Can be Terminated for Social Media Content
Business owners can, in most cases, terminate at-will employees for any type of social media use, whether social media posts are made during work hours or during the employee’s personal time. It is important to clarify when actions can be taken against employees for social media posts, and what types of content can result in termination. It is critical to ensure that this policy does not violate any state or federal laws designed to prohibit discrimination in the workplace and that the policy applies equally.
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