Angie Williams

Three Things to Remember When Creating a Social Media Policy

smDeveloping policies and rules. It’s a fraction of what we do (cynics may think it is all HR does), but often it’s necessary. As you know, HR needs to be proactive about policies and that includes policies about social media. With its pervasive nature, social media can have a big impact on your organization. And if you do not have a social media policy in place you may just be setting yourself up for disaster.

Social media allows individuals to express themselves. Unfortunately, with the ups and downs of each day personal posts can reflect negatively on your organization. Posts like “I am having the worst day,” or “The people I work with are crazy” do not align with the corporate face you want to show. And if you don’t have a policy in place you can’t prevent (or worst case punish) this behavior.  An effective social media policy should cover both what’s acceptable within the content of posts as well as permissions of who can post during the workday.

Every company needs to work on a policy that works for their individual culture. There are policies out there you can find and modify for your own purposes or Willory’s consulting team can get you started and maybe even finished depending on your needs. You will need to take into consideration some legal precedence’s and HR-related issues people have had (including but hopefully not yourself) and map out what’s needed for your organization. Keep the following in mind when creating your policy.

Make it flexible. Social media is constantly changing and evolving. A proactive company policy still in place from 2005 may still have verbiage that refers to MySpace and Friendster – two essentially defunct social platforms. Try not to stay platform neutral and focus on different types of usage.

Small, quick breaks throughout the day can refresh employees and keep them productive, so no one is suggesting you completely ban social media at the office.

Transparency should be evident. Make sure employees understand not only the policy, but the “spirit” of the policy. This of course includes putting the business in the best possible light and at the very least not detracting from a businesses’ brand. In essence, be it on personal or corporate social media profiles, your employees are acting as representatives of your organization on social media. Get the staff involved about before crafting the policy. Make sure they know why it is being created and when it will be implemented. Also, be clear about what the ramifications are for breaking the policy.

Clear language. Don’t hide behind legalese. Make sure that everyone can read and understand the policy. Include Do’s, Do Not’s, and examples. Do not include language that your average employee cannot understand.

You should be reviewing your policies on a regular basis, but if you keep these tips in mind you will have some leeway. Keep in mind it never hurts to run your policy by a good employment attorney.

Do you feel you need help with your social media policy? Let me know and we can work together to create one that works for all levels of your organization.



One Response to “Three Things to Remember When Creating a Social Media Policy”

  1. Seth says:


    Good post. You may also want to let your clients know that their social media policy needs to be drafted consistent with the law as well. The NLRB has been particularly active in finding social media policies in violation of the NLRA and the General Counsel has come out with a few memos on this as well. You probably know this already.

    Say hi to JB and LD for me!!

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