Five Social Media Policy Tips For Your Human Resources Department


Remind your employees to live an online life that is “Light, Bright & Polite.”Social media platforms have quickly created a liability and PR risk for human resources departments. One thoughtless tweet -- 140 characters -- shot off by an employee or executive of your company can spread around the web like wildfire. Before you know it, your brand is in hot water.

Need an example? A high-profile public relations executive landed in Memphis for a business trip. Upon landing, he tweeted “I would die if I had to live here.”

Harmless? Not so much. Memphis is home to FedEx, and FedEx just happens to be one of the executive’s largest PR clients. Oops.

You may have heard about the Domino’s Pizza disaster when two bored employees decided to post a video of their disgusting pizza-making antics on YouTube. The video of one employee putting a piece of cheese up his nose before placing it on a pizza that went out for delivery went viral and ignited a serious PR crisis.

A clear social media policy may have prevented such a PR nightmare.

Social media is a powerful tool, but in many cases it has been used to do more harm than good. It’s absolutely critical that every company create a social media policy to prevent a disaster such as one of these examples.

Here are five social media policy tips for your human resources department:

  1. Write out a clear social media safety policy.

    Even if employees are posting as themselves, and not on the behalf of your company, employees must understand that they are a representation of your brand. Create a policy reminding employees that they will be held responsible should the things they say and photos they post on social media be a poor representation of the company. Employees should understand that "My tweets are my own and not that of my company" does not protect them from getting the brand in hot water. Instead of encouraging them to set their privacy settings 'high' instead, urge them to live an online life that is "Light, Bright and Polite." This will keep them (and the company) transparent. Remind them that their privacy settings are never 100 percent bulletproof.

  2. Create a small training program around your policy.

    Social media training should be incorporated into your employee orientations and periodic training sessions. Review your company’s social media policy and be clear about what actions are considered unacceptable.

  3. Remind your employees to live an online life that is “Light, Bright & Polite.”

    For example, something as brief as “Be ethical and always think before you post,” may suffice. But you may want to dig even deeper. Once again, tell your staff that they are a representation of the brand. If they dissagree, remind them that customers are our bosses and if a journalist sees that a staff member is bashing someone, it usually tarnishes the brand.

When creating your policy, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you want to ban social media use at work? If so, how will you monitor it? If social media use at work is permitted, is it limited to work-related content?
  • Do you want employees to associate with your business online? If the answer to this is no, your policy may state that employees should not list your company’s name under “Employment” on their profiles. The downside to doing so is that you lose networking potential. The pro is that you will drastically reduce the chances of a negative or damaging post by an employee being tied back to your business.
  • How would you define “mature and appropriate business behavior?” Remind employees that everything the post online is public and that they can be disciplined for social media posts regardless of when or where it was posted.
  • How does your social media fit in with your other corporate policies? You may need to revisit these policies to ensure no company policies contradict another.

Here are three words to keep your employees safe and effective on social media:

Crafting a social media policy for your human resources department can be tricky. However, a well-thought out policy may serve as additional protection against what could become a PR nightmare for your company.

What is your social media policy at your company? Let us know in the comments below.