Are Your Employees Using Social Media?
As an employee of your company, your employees have both rights and responsibilities.
To add to this, regulated companies and professional services firms generally have higher business risks than other types of businesses.
This includes financial services firms and healthcare organizations. Government agencies, transportation and utilities companies, accountants, lawyers and doctors also have higher risks.
These companies hold and transact highly sensitive and personal data about their customers. They store, use and transmit financial and health information about their customers. As such, these industries are held to a higher standard of care and diligence. They also face greater scrutiny and regulation by industry bodies and government agencies.
Employees of these firms must adhere to these standards so they and their company remains compliant with those regulations. Non-compliance is messy, expensive and time-consuming.
A workplace social media policy is essential for employees to understand your social media rules.
Social Media and Regulations
If your company is regulated, it must comply with industry regulations or laws around digital communications, advertising, customer/data privacy and employee use.
Social media has implications in all of these areas:
- Digital communications are regulated. Social media is used as a powerful tool to communicate with customers and others, and the Federal Trade Commission regulates these communications.
- Advertising is regulated. Many companies advertise on different social networks to target specific audiences. That advertising is regulated, again, by the FTC. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the primary federal agency that enforces advertising laws and regulations. The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) prohibits deceptive or unfair practices in advertising.
- Customer, employee and data privacy is regulated. Social networks hold a wealth of data about their users. That data is highly valuable to the social platforms themselves and other companies who want to buy, rent, lease or otherwise use that data. It’s also useful to hackers. Hence the regulations and laws to help keep our data secure, private and out of the hands of bad actors.
- Industry-specific and regional laws are in place related to social media. Some industries and regions have specific requirements about social media, including employees and employers rights.
A workplace social media policy will help clarify these areas and manage the risks associated with your employees’ use of social media.
Without a clear policy, it’s difficult to hold employees accountable for their actions.
The open, transparent, immediate and interactive nature of social media means that people can express and share their opinions in an instant.
Every company with employees should establish a written social media policy.
A written social media policy can help your company to:
- Introduce employees to your company’s approach to social media
- Communicate to employees about what’s expected of them if they post in social media
- Educate employees about your company’s social media operations including what channels you publish on, how you handle public comments and the roles and responsibilities of different teams
- Comply with federal, state and industry laws and regulations (many industries now have social media-specific regulations in place)
- Help provide evidence in the case of employee lawsuits or claims
- Explain the processes for managing social media initiatives within the company.
You can also provide useful templates, checklists and other useful documents that help ensure employees have the tools they need to comply with their workplace social media policy.