The Ins and Outs of a Social Media Policy

By Generational Equity


While some entrepreneurs may be reluctant to ‘tell employees what to do outside of work,’ it is still important to protect your company with a unified, cohesive, social media policy.

Basically, social media guidelines outline what is, and is not, acceptable when an employee identifies you as their employer while participating on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and when commenting on blogs. While a company cannot stop employees from discussing workplace conditions per the National Labor Relations Act, employers may prohibit inappropriate sharing of confidential information.

Think of these HR policies as a supplement to what you outline as acceptable use of company-owned computers, professional behavior and brand management.

Social Media Resource provides an excellent library of social media policies from a host of for-profit, non-profit and governmental organizations. Check out a few of these policies for ideas of what to include in your own guidelines.

These policies don’t have to be full of legalese. To make the policy easily understood by employees, keep it simple. A few common examples from publicly posted social media guides incude:

  • Company XYZ strongly discourages employees from ‘friending’ customers or vendors, unless a personal relationship existed prior to the professional relationship.
  • Be professional, accurate and respectful, and use good judgment in your communications. Errors, omissions or unprofessional language or behavior reflects poorly on Company XYZ, and may result in liability for you or the company.
  • Don’t post private or confidential company information, such as sales numbers or company strategy.
  • When announcing a new hire by name on social media, gain that person’s permission first.
  • Any employee using company social media accounts, logos, product photos on behalf of the company must be approved and trained first.
  • Think before you post. Don’t post photos or comments of customers, coworkers or vendors that could be perceived as negative, harassing, threatening, retaliatory or discriminatory.

Many excellent examples of social media policies exist online if your legal counsel or human resources department doesn’t have one.

By Jessica Johns Pool.

© 2016 Generational Equity, LLC. All Rights Reserved.