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Create a Social Media Policy to Protect Your Company

Law

Eighty-one percent of the U.S. population has a social media account, and a vast portion of your customer base is likely included in this figure. This high percentage highlights just how crucial it is for companies to maintain a positive presence online in this tech-savvy era.

Even more important, businesses are open to scrutiny for posts on their official accounts, as well as those on their employee's personal accounts. Adopting a social media policy can help you manage and control your company's narrative. Here are some helpful tips to assist you in crafting this policy.

NLRA Laws

The verbiage within your social media policy must be compliant with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Employees may be terminated based on their online engagement, but only in specific instances. Otherwise, the termination could be deemed discriminatory.

For example, the policy can introduce the possibility of separation when employee posts include information about compensation or other protected information. For minor gripes, such as an employee posting a complaint about working on a holiday they'd hoped to have off, termination could be viewed as discrimination, in terms of freedom of speech.

Subjective Language

An effective social media policy is one that is clear and concise. Eliminate the use of subjective language to align with this goal. Common terms to avoid in your policy include generic words like inappropriate, disparaging and offensive, because each of these terms has a lot to do with personal perception.

Ask a group of people what they consider unsuitable online behavior, and you'll get answers across the board. Instead, be specific in your expectations, such as instructing employees to avoid sexually explicit and racially-motivated posts.

Company Equipment

An employer has limited, or no control over what an employee does outside of working hours, including engaging in social media platforms. However, employers have complete control over what employees do while on the job, specifically when using company-owned equipment.

You may include information within your policy that prohibits employees from using individual, or all, social media platforms when using smartphones, tablets, and other devices provided to them by the company for work-use only.

Compensation

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that all employees be paid for the services they render.

When drafting a social media guideline, avoid using any terminology that directly, or indirectly, makes a violation of the social media policy punishable through any form of compensation withholding, including deducting hours from their earning period or reducing accrued paid leave.

An employer that responds to violations by withholding compensation may open the door to a lawsuit and a federal labor law violation.

Company Mentions

Employers can also choose to include verbiage within the policy that prohibits employees from using company mentions within their posts. Company mentions can consist of the name of the company, owned images, logos, and any other trademarks. Employers should consider a company mention guideline a critical part of the policy.

A post that is unbecoming of your company's image could offer the perception that the employee is representing the company in an official capacity, such as in the role of a spokesperson. A post with a perceived link to your brand may have widespread consequences if it is negative or misrepresentative of your companies views.

Brand reputation is one of the most valuable assets an organization has. A concise and effective social media policy can help you protect your company's reputation online.

Whether you want to add a social media policy to your existing employee handbook or you are starting from scratch, Gary A. Isaacs, P.A. can assist you. Contact our office to learn how we can help you.‚Äč