When it comes to social media policies, I find it all a bit complicated. And from reading this weeks’ readings, it does seem as though there are several varying opinions on the matter. To try to understand my questions, I went in search of other articles and came across this article. It discusses 10 ways to create a social media policy for business. I especially liked Tip #2, which talks about creating a transparent and innovative culture. It’s understandable as many companies use social media to market or advertise to their client base, and any comments made from the company site should its values and missions. Social media should come as part of a natural conversation between a company, its employees and its client base. Instituting policies that support the discussion that takes place in the workplace makes perfect, logical sense.
But when I came to Tip #7, which talks about creating two social media policies (one for employees using social media for their work, and a second for employees using social media in their personal lives), I became a little worried. There are legitimate reasons for creating a social media policy for employees out of office – especially when it concerns the company directly, such as protecting trade secrets or clients’ privacy. However, we all know a friend on Facebook (maybe 2) who has made comments about their work or co-workers, which incidentally or not, came across as negative and was broadcast to all their work friends on Facebook. It’s not appropriate and it comes across as unprofessional – but can a company institute policies that prohibit this behaviour? Just look at the recent move from the NHL, which bans players from tweeting 2 hours prior to a game until their media interviews are finished afterwards. Are employees representing their company 24 hours a day? Is it unrealistic to assume that there are strict boundaries between the house and work? These are the questions that I keep asking myself.
In some ways these policies are similar to the New York Times banning journalists from openly participating in politics or prohibiting them from taking part in community committees. And in some way by creating these policies and creating a conversation with employees, it does create a blueprint as to how employees can think before they (re)act in a public forum. To be honest, the more I think about, the more confused I get. I guess this is a complicated issue that will depend on many variables, including the employee and the company. And as more and more companies follow suit which social media policies for personal lives, we will continue to examine the benefits and downfalls of these policies. On a related note, I did find this great site, which links to social media policies from over 100 companies.