Why Annual Social Media Policy Reviews Are Necessary

With new social media platforms cropping up all the time, workplace social media rules must go beyond simply discouraging employees from putting off deadlines to play with Snapchat filters. In fact, your corporate social media policy could probably use some updating right now, and on at least an annual basis moving forward to reflect industry changes. That is—if you even have one! Only 51 percent of people said their employers have social media guidelines, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

No matter the size of your company, ask yourself this: When was the last time you reviewed your company’s social media policy? And if you don’t have a policy in place, what’s holding you back?

Developing a social media policy and keeping it up to date will ensure that your employees are aware of what they can and cannot do, help your company avoid violating any rules, and ultimately, serve to cover the company’s you-know-what.

Here’s a closer look at why you’ll want to make an up-to-date social media policy a priority so you:

Avoid legal scandals. All you have to do is recall Chipotle’s gaffe from 2015, in which it lost a lawsuit for firing an employee who posted negative items on social media. However, the court found Chipotle’s social media policy actually violated federal labor laws. Ouch!

Your takeaway: Work with your legal team to update your policy, so it jives with legal changes coming out of the Federal Trade Commission and the National Labor Relations Board. Your old policy needs to reflect the current legal standards. For instance, the FTC has clear guidelines regarding disclosures and endorsements, so check that out to see how it affects your social media marketing.

Protect company secrets. As the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) explains, a social media policy may actually help safeguard sensitive data from potential hackers and online scams, especially in a BYOD environment. Employees should also know what proprietary information about the company must never be shared—another aspect that needs to be regularly updated as the business grows.

Your takeaway: Protect your company’s information by identifying what is considered confidential, such as marketing tactics, non-public financials, future product launches, and other “for internal use only” communications. Check out GM’s Social Media Policy to see how they spell it out for their workers.

Make it clear what type of social media activity is and isn’t allowed. While it might be obvious that posting illicit, offensive, or insensitive material on a company-branded social media page is a no-no, it still happens. For the people running social for your company, what checks and balances are in place to avoid a public relations disaster? Are the rules different for each platform? Beyond that, though, there is a lot of gray area regarding if and how employees will be held accountable for what they post on their personal pages—and who will monitor that.

Your takeaway: As I’ve written before, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and be as specific as possible in your social media document. And if you needed another reason why it’s so important to continually update and periodically review your policy as new platforms come into play, this is it.

Ideally, effective social media policies should be fluid and responsive to the fast-paced digital world. But at the very least, taking the time to perform a yearly review can save your employees a lot of confusion, and help your company avoid potential pitfalls.

A version of this was first posted on

7 Traits Of Highly Influential Leaders

Without question, the world of work today runs on social media in some shape or form. It has changed the nature of work, play, friendship, commerce, romance — the list goes on and on. Where to begin?

For leaders, social media is an extraordinary tool. It enables new levels of communication and community. It establishes an immediate connection between a leader and people. It runs in real time. And it creates a dialogue and a forum that can lead to increased productivity, unity, and profits.

And yet an astonishing 70-80 percent of leaders aren’t even on social media. That’s like playing tennis with one arm tied behind your back: it puts you at distinct disadvantage (understatement). And too many leaders who are on social media pay it lip service, and use only a fraction of its potential.

The good news is that with a little practice everyone can master this exciting new discipline.

Here are 7 ideas to get you going.

1) Be Yourself. You can’t create a social media persona that isn’t true to you. It will simply be impossible to sustain, and it won’t feel genuine to your colleagues and employees. So find a voice that is comfortable, honest, and true. Be open and transparent. Be yourself, but be your best self. Remember: humor is a priceless tool.

2) Stay On Message. You can’t be all things to all people, and you don’t want to dilute your overarching message by going on tangents that you cannot put your heart behind. People need to know that when they read your posts, they will be getting something of value that will educate, inspire or energize them.

3) Put Quality Over Quantity. We all have social media favs whose posts we just can’t wait to read, because we know we’ll learn something. Then are those who post about what they had for lunch. Make sure every post is worthwhile. Don’t worry about not posting for a couple of days, better a short break than a ceaseless stream of ho-hum “I’m so great” posts.

4) Start A Real Dialogue. There are few things more exciting than a social media site that really engages employees in a forum that sparks insights and ideas. One thought leads to another and soon everyone is contributing and a sense of ownership takes hold. Encourage this outcome by asking questions, and soliciting ideas and input from the community.

5) Invest In Your Site/Social Media Presence. We’ve all seen tired looking sites, or sites that are slow and cumbersome to navigate or are not mobile friendly. They’re workplace culture killers. We all love speed and ease these days, and sites that are clean, uncluttered and operate smoothly are much more apt to engage users.

6) Think Before You Post. Know what you’re trying to accomplish. Vet your post for anything that is poorly written, or might be confusing or offensive. Like all powerful tools, social media can go very wrong. Be spontaneous, open and reactive, but always…..>>>

7) Have Big Fun. Sounds so trite, doesn’t it? Well, trite or not, the fact is that stellar talent and effective leaders love what they do. The line between work and play blurs for them. They are having a blast and it’s reflected in their success.

Remember: social media is not some amorphous behemoth, although it can seem that way to those uncomfortable or unfamiliar with it. Think of social media not as something you have to conquer, but as your partner and ally in the quest for breakthrough performance.

A version of this post was first published on Forbes.

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