By Rebecca Aguilar.

Maybe you have spent years building your business and brand, but it takes one bad tweet or Facebook post by an employee to ruin everything. Once something goes viral there is no way to take it back. And do you really want to deal with a possible lawsuit over something an employee posted on social media?

That is why today whether you have two or 2000 employees, your company needs a social media policy. Simple guidelines will help them in their use of social media platforms during and after business hours.

A policy will also protect your company’s reputation and help avoid legal issues.

A social media policy helps employees know how to respond. It also helps them be aware that they represent the company after work hours and anything they post can affect the company.

The policy should include specific language on what social media platforms and company online pages (blogs, e-newsletters, texts, graphics, memes and company website) are covered by the policy.

Clear and simple guidelines allow the employee to avoid confusion as to what he or she can say on a social media platform. It can also encourage them to be more involved.

It should be tailored to what is best for your employees and the company. Here is a list of options you could adopt in your policy.

  • Be honest. What you post should be true.
  • Your opinions are yours, say so.
  • Be respectful online.
  • Being positive goes a long ways.
  • Share information the company has made public (awards, donations during causes, fundraising successes, promotions).
  • Don’t get into a war of words with those who disagree with you.
  • Confidential company information should remain confidential. Don’t post it.
  • Don’t criticize the competition.
  • When in doubt about a post you want to make, ask HR, social media manager or immediate supervisor for advice.
  • No posting of inappropriate photos, memes, graphics or text.
  • Harassing and/or hateful posts will not be tolerated.
  • Think before you post and use your best judgment.
  • ­Employees should inform a supervisor if they are being harassed on social media.
  • Remember even after business hours, what you post can be a positive or negative reflection of your employer.

Your social media policy should be included in the employee handbook, and should be addressed with every new employee when they join the company.

If possible, once or twice a year hold a meeting to go over the social media guidelines to make sure your communication and expectations are clear to your employees. There is no room for lack of communication or miscommunication when you are dealing with social media that reaches millions around the world.

Update your social media policy at least once year.

It is key to have a social media manager who can be responsible for your company’s social media platforms and posts. This person should also make sure that employees are following the policy set by the company. The social media manager should set the tone for the company online by following the same policies set for employees.

As we have shared before “One post can make or break you.”

Working on strategy

Rebecca Aguilar is a multiple award-winning journalist and social media leader. Aguilar is also the founder of the largest Latina virtual networking group “Wise Latinas Linked” on Facebook and LinkedIn. Follow her on twitter @RebeccaAguilar

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