ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Katherine Hawes
Katherine Hawes I am a lawyer with two dogs as my office companions and I race cars in my spare time. For over 15 years I have been assisting small business grow and understand their legal responsibilities. I understand the legal complexities of operating a business but also the need to provide assistance to people in difficult personal times such as divorce and placing parents in retirement care. Digital Age Lawyers is a different type of law firm – there is no hidden costs, no charge by the minute and no charge for a reassuring chat in times of crisis. I am to provide a service and ensure you’re protected by the law.

Katherine Hawes has written 6 article(s) for us.

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The Importance of Social Media Policies

May 17, 2017 | Katherine Hawes

In today’s digital age, social media is everywhere and businesses not using it are getting left behind.  Social media is a vehicle to cost effective, fast and far reaching promotion for businesses however with social media moving faster than the law, what happens legally and financially if something goes wrong?  How can we minimise the negative impacts to our business?

This blog explores a social media essential for your business – a Social Media Policy.  What are they, who needs them, why they are needed and what should they contain?

What is a Social Media Policy and who needs one?

A Social Media Policy is a corporate code of conduct with formalised guidelines for employees who post content onto social media in either an employment or personal capacity.  Employees need to read and understand the policy as well as recognise that policy breaches may result in disciplinary action and potentially result in employment termination.

Any business, whether small, medium or large that uses social media needs a social media policy.   If you have employees, the policy is vital if the employees use social media privately.  You cannot control employee and public inappropriate social media usage however you can minimise the impacts.

Why do you need a Social Media Policy?

Simply to protect your business!  Protection comes in many forms; save your reputation, protect confidential information, make employees understand that their actions have consequences, educate employees on social media, creating brand consistency by outlining the way to communicate online and very importantly to decrease the risk of legal mistakes.

What should be in your Policy?

A policy should detail definitions applicable to your business like, what is; an online crisis, confidential business information, social media misconduct and social media law?

Policies will vary, depending on your business and the purpose of your policy however here are three inclusion we definitely recommend.

  1. Prohibit the sharing of confidential, sensitive, trademarked or copyrighted information on any personal account. This must include defamation of customers or colleagues
  2. Detail how and when employees identify themselves as employees in an official capacity
  3. Set employee boundaries with customers

You should also consider and document other policy details, This may include; what employees and venues the policy applies to, the purpose of the policy as well as all stakeholder roles and responsibilities including the policy owner, social media team and administration of passwords and new accounts.

Harness the power of social media for your business but ensure you manage it appropriately.  It might sound dramatic but a social media policy may truly be the difference between a business that prospers, and one that is legally and financially devastated.