How to Use Social Media Policies: Communicating and Training Your Employees

In Part 1 of “How to Write Social Media Policies Series,” I discussed the myths around social media.  In Part 2, I outlined paid and free social media monitoring tools organizations can use, and in Part 3, I share some scenarios that companies and HR teams may have already encountered when branding on social media networks. In Part 4, I discuss how to communicate the social media policy to your employee population and provide social media trainings.

Using Your Social Media Plan: Now What?

Your corporate social media policy, just like the rest of your employee handbook and policy and procedure manual, should be custom created with your company and organization in mind.  Education, research, and collaboration among other employees and other departments outside of your human resource team are key in ensuring that your social media policy properly reflects your company’s culture, values, and business goals.

Communicate Your Corporate Social Media Plan

When evaluating your social media policy and determining how to incorporate it into your company’s employee handbook, standard operating procedures, or policy manuals, constant communication is key.  Many organizations fail to properly communicate a policy change using an employee acknowledgment as a failsafe crux.  As your social media policy is so critical to your organization, it makes sense that the corporate social media policy that can affect your organization so swiftly should require more than a single employee signature.  I call this one and done.

Social Media Classes, Tips and Education from the Top Down:

I suggest communicating your new social media policy a multitude of ways including:

  • Employee Memo from the CEO. A policy change like this should come from the top and not just your HR or IT departments.
  • Front Line Manager Meetings. As the new social media policy is being rolled out, this change should be communicated first to your management teams providing them an explanation that is clear as to what the specific corporate policy is.  Managers are now using Google and social networks as a form of employee background check.  To avoid this scenario, it’s important to explain to managers the expectation as well as the boundaries for themselves as well as their employees,  but provide social media training if needed.
  • Signed Acknowledgment Form Plus Annual Training. Chances are your HR and legal teams will advise you to include an acknowledgment form of some kind and I agree.  I personally recommend that all employees receive annual social media training or classes to remind them of the guidelines, pitfalls, and suggested practices.
  • New Hire Social Media Training. In addition to annual social media training for all employees, I advise all companies to include social media guidelines in their new hire training.  As these social networking sites become more popular, it’s important to talk about what the expectations are.  If you are a company like SHRM, they have a process in place for all corporate Twitter accounts.  Social Media classes and clear communication like this should be discussed to avoid any potential misunderstanding.

What to Add to Social Media Training for Employees

What is the most important prior to rolling out any type of social media policy or training, is to make sure that your policy fits your organizational culture and covers all aspects or areas that you had originally intended.  Organizations should consider not mentioning specifically social networking platforms by name because new sites are added daily.

It is important to include and consider the following areas in addition to classes about social networking platforms.

  • Video as well as Voice Recording
  • Mobile Computers — Smart Phones & Tablets
  • Personal Computers and their use at Work
  • Mobile Computer Apps
  • Photos, Texting, and Confidentiality

The above mentioned bullets are NOT things that you will hear from your attorney.  That is because an attorney’s job is to advise you the employer on the current potential pitfalls and liabilities.  Employment law attorneys are not adopters or users of social media, and therefore, struggle understanding exactly how employees or companies and corporations are using these tools outside of case law summaries and court decisions.

 A Final Social Media Tip:

Botton line, no matter how great your company’s social media policy is, it won’t matter if no one else knows how to use social media or, how to use social networks properly for your companies branding.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

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