Clearly outlining what is and isn't appropriate online can save you a lot of hassle in the long-term.

Should my company have a social media policy?

There’s no denying that social media is becoming an increasingly important tool for both business and personal use.

But what happens when there is no defined social media policy in place to address how employees should conduct themselves online?

One American company recently learned this lesson the hard way – sacking its chief financial officer for communicating information improperly via social media sites.

But rather than adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach – which can put your business’ reputation at risk and open your company up to the financial repercussions that can accompany social media misuse – it will be better to nip employee issues in the bud with a comprehensive social media policy.

Clearly outlining what is and isn’t appropriate online – including your expectations for email, Facebook and Twitter conduct – can save you a lot of hassle in the long-term, as long as this message is also communicated effectively to new staff from the outset, as well as existing employees.

You may even want to clarify the difference between professional and personal use of social media – as you may have different guidelines for those who post on a corporate Facebook or Twitter page than for individuals who use these sites in their own time.

Reasonable things to specify include the information that can and cannot be shared about your company in a public forum, and that employees act in a professional manner – and in your company’s best interests – online.

Including your social media policy in your induction framework for new staff is a great way to get people started off on the right foot – and you might also want to carry out regular training sessions to remind your employees about their obligations when using social media sites.

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