Sharing confidential information from work has always been a red flag, especially if we’re talking about wealth management. An assistant account executive at a prime finance company was fired due to sharing a photo on her Instagram account – after successfully closing a project. The shared photo is a direct violation of her company’s social media policy, particularly when the assistant ruined the public announcement of the new client.
In a similar incident that occurred in April 2023, a Gucci employee was fired after one of her TikToks – ultimately about the company's 'employee freebies', that went viral on social media. The now ex-employee made some revolting comments on her video, like hating the Blazers and getting 'boring' white shoes.
These two incidents underscore the importance of a well-defined and clearly communicated social media policy for all types of businesses, whether it's in financial services, luxury goods, professional services, manufacturing, or in any other growing field.
Therefore, companies should take a proactive approach to social media by developing a comprehensive policy that clearly outlines what is and is not acceptable when it comes to employees' use of social media. By doing so, companies can avoid potentially damaging consequences that could lead to loss of clients, reputational harm, or even legal action.
77% of Americans use social media at work, and 22% of these individuals admitted to making negative comments about their employer through it. With this in mind, it's essential to understand the potential risks and benefits of social media use and how to navigate the maze of rules and regulations that govern it.
Additionally, employers must ensure their brand is properly represented on social media. In contrast, employees need to know what they can and cannot post on their accounts.
What is a Social Media Policy?
A social media policy helps to protect both the company and the employee. It ensures that employees are aware of the company's expectations and that they use social media in a way that is consistent with the company's values and principles—all the while giving their employees a voice without hurting the brand.
The policy usually includes:
Rules around sharing confidential information.
Engaging in inappropriate conversations or behavior.
Using social media during work hours.
How Does Personal Branding Benefit the Employer?
Personal branding benefits the employer through increased visibility, improved recruitment and retention, a more robust company culture, and an enhanced reputation. However, only some have access to these benefits. Just imagine, 20 years ago, no one cared about an organization's culture as long as your product or service was of high quality. Today, you can't compete just by providing quality merchandise. It has to be partnered with good company culture and a reputable brand – and your employees are, without a doubt, your biggest brand ambassadors. So, you have to make them voluntarily talk positively about you.
The average internet user spends at least 145 minutes on social media every day. To take advantage of this fact, it's important to create an innovative, inclusive, and thriving company culture for your brand. Once accomplished, the personal branding benefits mentioned will come in your possession.
Why should you get a Social Media Policy for your employees?
In today's information age, social media is integral to our lives. Thus, employees are bound to share their opinions and experiences on social media, which can impact the company's reputation – optimistically or not. Having a clear social media policy would be best to encourage your employees to let their voices out and express their opinions without hurting the brand.
Without a social media policy, employees may unintentionally damage your brand by posting inappropriate content or commenting negatively about the company. This can harm your brand's image and lead to a loss of customers.
Cost-benefit analysis for putting a Social Media Policy
To make the best decision for your organization, it's important to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. The costs of implementing a social media policy include the time and resources required to create and implement the policy.
This may involve a team of professionals to research and draft the policy and employee training sessions to ensure everyone in the organization is aware of the policy. To get the best-case scenario, here are some professionals you need to establish a social media policy.
HR or a person in the Human Resource department – should be one of the team. The valuable time of an HR is needed to consider the latest legal and regulatory changes, as well as the evolving trends and technologies in social media. They must also consider their organization’s specific needs and risks and tailor the policy accordingly.
Lawyer/Attorney – A lawyer can help you with the legal aspects of your social media policy, including intellectual property rights, privacy laws, and regulations around advertising and marketing. They can also help you ensure that your policy is clear, consistent, and enforceable and aligns with your business objectives and values. In the USA, the typical attorney fees usually range from $100 to $400 an hour, depending on their experience and area of specialization.
Social Media Marketing Professional – A Professional Social Media Marketing expert can help you identify potential risks and develop a policy that covers all aspects of social media use within the organization–especially the employees.
On the other hand, the benefits of implementing a social media policy are significant. The procedure can help to mitigate the risk of negative publicity or damage to the organization's reputation due to inappropriate employee behavior on social media. It can also help to ensure that employees understand the organization's policies and can help to prevent potential legal liabilities.
Suppose you were to take a compliance and regulatory risk by not having a social media policy. In that case, a fine of up to $50 million can land on you – and this is especially true if you are one of the major brands in the market and is considered an easy target.
How much time and money do I need to develop a Social Media Policy?
In the United States, 27% of people actively use their social media for work. So, it's vital to establish a social media policy, and the first step to do that is by preparing the time and money needed to develop one.
On average, developing social media guidelines can take few days to several weeks. The process typically involves research, stakeholder consultation, and drafting and reviewing. The complexity of your social media strategy as well as the size of your organization are also contributing factors, and you may need to involve multiple departments to do so.
Given the hourly rate of attorneys, their legal fees, and the work that some people in your department will miss, it may take up to $15,000 to develop an all-set, clear, concise social media policy.
Employer Consequences for Not Implementing a Social Media Policy
Employers who fail to implement a social media policy are putting their businesses at risk of legal and reputational consequences. Without a social media policy in place, employees may not understand the expectations and standards for their online behavior in the context of their employment. This can lead to a range of concerns, including online harassment, discrimination, and breaches of confidentiality.
Goaldy takes the guesswork out of creating a social media policy and ensures that everyone – especially your employees, is aware of the guidelines. With Goaldy, you can rest assured that your business is protected from any potential issues that can cause social media mishaps and how your people represent your brand online.
As social media continues to grow in importance and usage in the workplace, having a clear and comprehensive policy is essential to protect your company from legal or reputational issues. Goaldy can help you navigate the process and create an approach that suits your needs. If you would like to find out more about how Goaldy can help you set up your social media policy, please visit https://www.itsgoaldy.com/services to learn more.