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How Businesses Can Use — Not Abuse — Social Media

Tips and TricksSocial media is a powerful tool for companies. It’s a great way to promote products and services, and many companies encourage employee participation on company social platforms to add a personal touch to client interactions. In fact, a recent survey on social media in the workplace by Proskauer Rose LLP revealed that 75% of employers use social media for business purposes, and 40% think employee social media use is beneficial.

While social media can be a great advantage for a business, its misuse can be equally damaging. Inappropriate interactions by employees on social media platforms can harm a company’s reputation, and if social media becomes a regular distraction, productivity and the company’s bottom line can suffer. According to the same survey, nearly half of employers surveyed reported social media misuse by employees and former employees.

Using social media safely
How can your clients take advantage of the benefits of social media while protecting their business interests? They should strongly consider implementing a social media policy.

Here are five best practices to remember when creating a social media policy:

  1. Follow the law. Any social media policy needs to be in compliance with federal and local requirements, as well as privacy laws.
  2. Set clear boundaries. A social media policy needs to set boundaries for what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable social media usage — both in and out of the workplace, including after employment is terminated.
  3. Explain monitoring activities. If your clients plan to monitor employees’ social media usage at work, their social media policy needs to have express and well-communicated policies about the extent and exact nature of the monitoring they’ll perform. All monitoring needs to comply with federal, local, and privacy laws, and should go no further than is necessary to protect the employer’s business interests.
  4. Don’t misuse social media info. Employers need to be careful not to use social media information to make or influence employment-related decisions, such as discipline or recruiting. Doing so could put the employer at risk of unlawful discrimination by infringing on an individual’s rights to privacy.
  5. Protect employee data and privacy rights. For employers who monitor employee social media use, there is a legal obligation to observe data protection and privacy laws to protect any employee data obtained during monitoring activities. This often includes restricting access of monitoring activities to personnel specially trained in the monitoring and protection of employee data and privacy.

Social media can be a huge advantage when used properly. Creating a social media policy can help ensure proper usage and protect an employer’s business interests. The best practices above are a good start, but it’s also a good idea to review the resources available in the HR Support Center. Click here to view a sample policy on social media in the workplace; it will give your clients a good head start on making social media a success in their workplace!

Social media laws are complicated — don’t let your clients navigate these tricky waters on their own. To learn about how HR Academy can help, simply contact Alicia in the Client Experience department at alician@hranswerlink.com.
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