Social media includes such Internet applications as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, MySpace and blogging. When people started using such media, many thought it was purely for personal reasons and basically ignored its business implications. That is no longer true. In fact, with hundreds of millions of people using social media, it is rapidly the phone and even email as a primary form of communication.
Pope Benedict recently told Catholic priests: “for God’s sake, blog!” The Pope sees the need to use the Internet to communicate. In business, sales people have replaced expensive time on the road by providing webcast meetings with live audio and video. Getting a company’s news out, getting its product information out and just plain communicating with customers requires employees to use social media. So what can an employer do to assure that its employees use social media responsibly?
The first step is to be sure people understand the implications of using social media. Every online post becomes a permanent record of a person’s thoughts. So posting to the website “I Hate My Job” could expose an employee to all kinds of problems. Posting things about your employer or it products or the fight one has with a co-employee could do likewise. Be sure employees are adequately trained to know the problems with misuse of social media.
Consider putting a social media policy in place. Such policies should require that employees posting:
· clearly express that they represent the employee’s, not the employer’s opinions
· must be truthful, non-disparaging, respectful and in line with other work policies
· should not interfere with the employees’ other work responsibilities
· should ask questions of a supervisor, if any questions arise
This is an area where we get many questions and have assisted businesses in establishing appropriate policies. I personally am involved in several social medias and can be reached at www.twitter.com/tomschober, www.linkedin.com/in/tomschober, http://profile.to/tomschober, www.wisconsinbusinesslawblog.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.