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Should Your Business Have a Social Media Policy?

Yes, it is generally advisable for businesses to have a social media policy for legal purposes. A social media policy is a set of guidelines and rules that govern how employees and representatives of the company should use social media in the context of their work.

Social Media Policy Protects Company Reputation

  • Protecting Confidential Information: A social media policy can outline the importance of not sharing confidential or sensitive company information on social media platforms. This helps protect trade secrets and other proprietary information from being inadvertently or intentionally disclosed.
  • Preventing Defamation and Libel: Employees may use social media to express personal opinions that could harm the company’s reputation. A social media policy can clarify what is acceptable in terms of discussing the company, its products, and its competitors, reducing the risk of defamation and libel claims.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Many industries are subject to regulations regarding the use of social media. For example, financial institutions have specific rules about what employees can say on social media. A social media policy can ensure that employees are aware of and adhere to these regulations.
  • Intellectual Property Protection: Businesses can use social media policies to remind employees about the importance of respecting copyrights and trademarks when posting content online.

Social Media Policy Protects Employees

Employee Guidelines: Social media policies can provide guidance on how employees should represent the company on social media, including brand messaging and professional conduct. This helps maintain consistency in the company’s online presence.

Crisis Management: The policy can outline procedures for handling social media crises, such as negative comments, online attacks, or PR crises, to ensure a coordinated and effective response.

Termination and Disciplinary Actions: It can clearly state the consequences of violating the policy, which may include disciplinary actions, up to and including termination of employment. A Blog Post from eChatter, a division of of Ann Michaels & Associates, explains how an employee can get terminated for a social media post. In fact, recently this has been in the news a lot.

Starbucks Sues Union After Solidarity With Palestine Tweet.

Monitoring social media for brand mentions has become a necessity rather than a “nice to have”. Companies as large as Starbucks have this monitoring in place, but it isn’t a bad idea for businesses of all sizes to incorporate a deep web scan on their business and key stakeholders on a regular basis.

Starbucks Workers United posted a social media post showing support of Palestine. The post included an image of a bulldozer breaking through the fence encircling Gaza. The post shown below has since been deleted.

“Starbucks executive VP and chief partner officer Sara Kelly released a statement affirming that stance on Tuesday, writing that the union’s post expressing support for Palestine in that context has had a negative impact on the company and its workers.”

“The ongoing confusion from this misinformation has sadly led directly to incidents where angry, hurt customers are confronting partners in our stores and sending graphic and violent images to partners in our Customer Contact Center (CCC),” she explained. 

Kelly’s statement from Wednesday noted the cease-and-desist letter requesting that Workers United “immediately stop using our company name, logo and intellectual property” and “issue an immediate correction” — a request she said the union rejected on Tuesday. “As a result, Starbucks will file litigation against the union in federal court, and we intend to pursue all legal options in defense of our partners and our company,” Kelly wrote. (Fox News)

Protect Your Company

Having a well-drafted social media policy can help protect the company’s interests, maintain a positive online reputation, and reduce the risk of legal issues. However, it’s important to consult with legal counsel to ensure that the policy is compliant with applicable laws and regulations, as these can vary by jurisdiction and industry. Additionally, it’s crucial to educate employees about the policy and provide training on its implementation to promote understanding and compliance.