We eat corporate policies for breakfast – used to providing core policy suites We discuss the issues around using social media in the workplace on a day to day basis Through this combination discovered a need for Australian organisations to have access to social media policies with a basis in Australian legislation I am not a lawyer – I manage BlandsLaw and its social media strategy. This is not legal advice – disclaimer – it’s intended as a discussion to get you thinking about social media policies and their function in the work place.
This presentation will endeavour to cover off on the basics of social media policies , hopefully after which you will be convinced that all organisations need a social media policy.
First of all, why does any organisation need to have a social media policy? This is a debate I have regularly and there are still those who will say “we don’t use social media” or “I trust my employees to use good judgement” I was at the istrategy conference last week and talking to the comms director of a large well know Australian company and he said to me “we don’t need a social media policy; there are only a couple of us in the company using social media ....!” The main point I want to make here is not to be theostrich with their head in their sand – social media is being used whether you are using it or not.
Social Media is not going away. Even if your organisation is not actively using social media as part of a strategy to engage, some of your employees, customers and suppliers will be. Again, the point to understand is that more and more people are engaged and active in social media – what is your organisation doing to manage this activity? How do you manage this? How do you know what is being said about you? How do you engage and educate your employees to mitigate possible PR nightmares?
There are many good reasons for having a social media policy and I have summarised them into three main points: (CLICK) One, it’s a means by which to protect your organisation, (CLICK) two, is to grow your business and three is to provide a tool for the organisation to use in engaging and training their employees. There can be many other reasons to have a social media policy, but these would have to be two of the most major considerations to take into account. are enough statistics around to
Protecting your interests
A social media policy quite simply provides guidance to employees as to how they can confidently engage in social media, with the express permission of the organisation. By giving employees guidance around how they may use social media in their professional capacity, you are reducing the risks of inappropriate use. Most employees who get into trouble on social media are not deliberately trying to sabotage the company or their jobs; they simply don’t understand how to use social media and it’s very public nature. This is the single biggest risk management issue.
A social media policy encapsulates your social media strategy into a document that can be used to inform the organisation.
We know that the younger generations coming through the workforce simply expect to engage on social media at work – they’ve been brought up on it as part of the way they interract as gen x’ers were brought up using the telephone. Stats demonstrate that when employees understand the public nature of social media, they use it appropriately.
Ok, so where do you start in writing a social media policy? What do you need to consider?
Who in the organisation will be in charge of social media? You need to have directed leadership, preferably from the top, to drive the development and implementation of a policy. Put together a “social media team” – marketing director, comms director, HR Director, corporate governance, legal counsel, IT department Define the purpose of the policy – a communication tool, a risk management device, a training tool, a PR document? Start by incorporating the companies social media strategy .
Social media accounts – is one person in charge of opening them, passwords, naming issues and ownership ie if the account is in the employees name, do they own it? What happens when they move companies? Refer to existing company policies eg bullying, harrassment, discrimination Aim to keep the document as succinct as possible Use language that reflects the company culture Appropriate use is the most important part – needs to cover areas such as confidentiality, privacy, honesty, accuracy, respect and fair use and also any necessary disclosures and be up front about any prohibited forms of communication. Summarise with a one page guidelines document that sits as a first page of the policy. Budget: social media is not free. The expense involved is mainly a time one, either your time, or someone elses’. You will also need to consider in your budget, the services of professionals such as a solicitor, a strategist, some PR and possible website upgrades. Do you wish to monitor employee use of social media? Have you inserted the correct clauses into the policy regarding monitoring? Crisis management – if things do go wrong, direct employees as to how to handle it. (CLICK) Training: you and your employees need to be trained, on an ongoing basis regarding the use of social media (CLICK) Monitoring: If you havent already, you need to consider monitoring. This means monitoring what is being said about you or your company or your products. You may needs to also consider monitoring your employee activities in regards to social media, but you need to advise them of this firstly. (CLICK) Crisis Management: just like an OH & S or other policy, what is going to be your companies reaction to a ‘crisis’ if it happens. By crisis, I mean things like twittering or blogging etc about inappropriate topics etc etc. These types of crises are few and far between but it is worth giving some thought to what you would do in this situation.
Each individal issue is going to be more or less important to each individual company, you need to consider these issues and what you most important areas of concern are. Think about and write down some issues before visiting a lawyer.
Firstly (CLICK), you need to be able to have some control over the content that employees are allowed to put on the various social media outlets concerning the business. Any comment/post that paints the company in a poor light or discloses confidential information about hiring/firing/strategy is damaging and employees should be informed through a properly drafted policy of what their obligations are and the potential problems for them if they breach the policy. (CLICK) Identifying these issues and drafting the policy to protect the business is where the lawyer comes in. Different businesses may also face different issues with the use of social media. For example, I would refer to the excellent article regarding the use of social media when recruiting; particularly if you’re an HR company. Also (CLICK) for a policy to be effective you need to be able to have recourse to it in case of a breach – to be absolutely sure that you do have effective recourse to take action over a breach of your social media policy I would strongly advise you get some legal expertise involved at the drafting stage. A good social media lawyer can put you accross all the potential issues and really assist with business protection
Firstly, Ensure all employees have read and understood the policy – can do this in a variety of creative ways. Eg using YouTube or ipads during induction programs and other social media platforms. This is a good opportunity to engage employees in a discussion about how they can add value to the organisation – regular discussion groups Implement internal social media platforms such as Yammer – stats show that organisations, such as Deloittes, who use internal social media have higher retention rates, greater employee satisfaction and less risk management issues due to a good understanding of social media. Implementation should be considered as an ongoing, regular process. Social media and its’ technology platforms are changing constantly and policies will need to reflect these changes.
In the past 12 months we have seen a shift from companies banning social media to more companies implementing social media strategies Policies have become more sophisticated and more detailed eg Coca Cola social media policy which requires employees who comment on “behalf of the company” to be authorised” Companies are using a team approach to social media policies and their implementation eg Deloitte’s social media council Companies are starting their social media usage via internal social media platforms such as Yammer – this enables employees to get some experience with social media in a “safe” enironment before they embark on external social media platforms.
www.blandslaw.com.au Vivienne Storey, General Manager The Importance of a Social Media Policy in the Workplace
<ul><li>BlandsLaw has core expertise is Industrial Relations / employment law. </li></ul><ul><li>We use social media as a key part of our marketing strategy to co-create niche communities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>@mysocialpolicy, @agchatoz, @irlawyeraus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Slideshare </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3 blogs </li></ul></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au Who Are We?
<ul><li>Part 1: Why every business needs a social media policy? </li></ul><ul><li>Part 2: Considerations in writing a social media policy. </li></ul><ul><li>Part 3: Implementation – how do you get the message accross the organisation? </li></ul><ul><li>Part 4: Trends – what’s new in social media policies. </li></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au Scope of Presentation.
<ul><li>2 out of 3 people worldwide visit social networking sites. </li></ul><ul><li>One study: each negative social media comment costs 30 customers </li></ul><ul><li>Another study: 34 percent of adults are using social media as an outlet to rant about brands and services (Bad PR!) </li></ul><ul><li>58% of users said if they tweet about a bad product or issue, they would like the brand/company to respond to their tweet </li></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au Why do you need a social media policy? Interesting Statistics
<ul><li>Protect your organisation / brands. </li></ul><ul><li>Grow your organisation / brands. </li></ul><ul><li>A tool for engagement and training. </li></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au Part 1. Why have a Social Media Policy?
www.blandslaw.com.au Twitter has 50% more activity on weekdays than on weekend days. Facebook is the most popular way to share information, followed by email, then Twitter
<ul><li>Ban: doesn’t work. Employees can still engage on social media on smartphones and find ways to circumvent the restrictions on the internet. </li></ul><ul><li>Why would you want to ban social media? It is a great tool for your business. </li></ul><ul><li>You need a policy in place to give employees some guidance and as an employer, some recourse if things go wrong. </li></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au 1. Protecting Your Organisation (and your employees?)
<ul><li>Imagine having all your employees as public PR advocates of your organisation? </li></ul><ul><li>A social media policy frees up employees to use social media under clear direction. </li></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au 2. Growing Your Business
<ul><li>Social media is an important tool in employee engagement. </li></ul><ul><li>Younger workers in particular have been reported as not considering working for a company that bans social networking. </li></ul><ul><li>Training is the single most important factor in risk management. </li></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au 3. A Tool for Engagement & Training
www.blandslaw.com.au How on earth do I put this together?
<ul><li>Decide whose in Charge </li></ul><ul><li>Put together a “social media team” </li></ul><ul><li>Define the the purpose of the policy </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporate the social media strategy </li></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au Part 2: Considerations in Writing a Social Media Policy (1)
<ul><li>How do you manage social media accounts? </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporate existing company policies </li></ul><ul><li>Use appropriate language </li></ul><ul><li>Appropriate use of social media </li></ul><ul><li>Keep the document succinct </li></ul><ul><li>Summarise with guidelines </li></ul><ul><li>Budget </li></ul><ul><li>Monitoring </li></ul><ul><li>Crisis Management </li></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au Considerations In Writing a Social Media Policy (2)
<ul><li>You need to be aware of some legal considerations when developing a social media policy such as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Privacy issues (both employer and employee) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitoring </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Brand, reputation and IP protection </li></ul></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au Legal Considerations
<ul><li>Additionally, you need to understand that unless you have a policy in place, you may find it hard to discipline staff for what you consider to be inappropriate use of social media. </li></ul><ul><li>This is a general employment law consideration. </li></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au Legal Considerations
<ul><li>Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>S17: you cannot block internet access to particular websites unless you are acting in accordance with a policy already in place. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>S16 you cannot monitor employees when they are ‘not at work’. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>S10 you must notify employees in the appropriate form if you plan to monitor them. </li></ul></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au Legal Considerations-Examples
Issues to Consider <ul><li>Will you differentiate between who may “write about the company” and “on behalf of” the company? </li></ul><ul><li>Who owns the company’s social media accounts? </li></ul><ul><li>Will you have a system of naming social media accounts? – Consistent message? </li></ul><ul><li>Disclaimers / identifiers for personal accounts? </li></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au
<ul><li>How do you retain ownership of accounts – or doesn’t this matter? </li></ul><ul><li>What is acceptable to discuss about the organisation on personal social media accounts? </li></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au Issues to Consider Cont.
<ul><li>You need to have some control over the content that employees publish. </li></ul><ul><li>Lawyers are adept at identifying the issues in contention and drafting a policy to take account of these. </li></ul><ul><li>Need to able to have recourse in the case of a breach of policy. </li></ul>www.blandslaw.com.au Do I Need a Lawyer?
www.blandslaw.com.au How do you get the message across the organisation ? Part 3: Implementation
Part 4. Trends www.blandslaw.com.au Where are we going?