Your social media policy, what is it good for? 7 top tips for producing something useful and meaningful.
For some crazy reason that I’ve never understood, people that are perfectly able to communicate well, when asked to write a policy suddenly lose the ability to write in simple English. The result is that most policies are written in legal speak, are too long and are over complicated.
Policies were initially written as a result of legislation, to cover the organisation’s back and so we developed a tradition of policies being written in complicated legal speak that no-one can understand, even if they read it. Of course we’re now figuring out that a policy is only useful if it is implemented and that requires everyone involved fully understanding it.
Social media policies have been produced in the same old way, and worse still, because social media is so new, they are frequently produced by people that do not fully understand social media themselves. The problem that we have is that social media is so new that employers and HR personnel do not understand it well enough, so they buy an off the shelf policy and think that will do it. But if managers do not understand it how can employees be expected to?
We all know that there’s an increase in cases going to conciliation and tribunal regarding supposed mis-use of social media that has had a negative impact on the workplace. Previously it was found that many organisations did not have a policy in place and therefore often the court would come down in favour of the employee. But recently there’s been a case where the employee had signed the policy, but said that they didn’t understand it and this was up-held.
It is clear that if policy is there to protect staff and explain to them their roles, rights and responsibilities, then we have to write this stuff in a way that people understand.
Social media policy was all too frequently related to who could use social media at work, but it is now being understood that much of the damage being done is not with malicious intent, but by people sounding off on their personal accounts in non- work time without understanding the issues of reach and privacy.
All these issues need to be fully understood before a useful and meaningful policy can be written, so managers, employers and HR personnel need to skill themselves up. In the meantime here are my top tips.
My tips for writing a social media policy…
1. Don’t write a policy!
2. Get the whole team on board. Have a team meeting, or a group of staff from all departments and find out what the issues are from their point of view.
3. Design a training session that can be rolled out across the organisation that explains very clearly what’s what. (#THINK is a great resource for this)
4. Have a simple plan to train staff at induction. Again, our staff training film #THINK is being used in many places for inducting staff into the Do’s and Don’t of social media.
5. Then give people a simple document to sign that explains what is required of them. This would most likely include
*They are not to talk about their employer, any members of staff , or clients in a way that is negative.
*They mustn’t share information about clients.
*That applies to their personal and work profiles……
6. Think about the person in your organisation that is least likely to understand social media and write it for them.
7. Let everyone know who they can talk to if they are worried about anything. Explain that we all make mistakes and that mistakes should be flagged up.
What do you think? Do you have any top tips about social media and workplace issues? Please leave a comment below.
You can purchase a copy of #THINK, the social media staff training film HERE
Jane runs social media and employment law training with Amy Stokes. If you would like to talk to Jane about your social media policy and staff training needs, drop her an email at email@example.com