Social Media Policy

July 1, 2011

Q: Do other members have a social networking policy in their employee handbook? I’ve been burnt by employees giving references and by inappropriate photos attached to our company Facebook page.

A: I did some research and here’s what I’ve found. First, we do intend to include a social media new policy in the Essentials of Systems Integration™ web portal over the summer, so look for that in the coming weeks. The majority of our members I spoke with use the “Internet and Email Use Policy” in Essentials, but it makes no mention of social media.

Here’s the advice I’ve been given by other integrators on this subject: First, have a firm policy that your employees give no references in regards to any former employee without it first being approved by someone in an official HR capacity. If the reference even appears as a company endorsement of the individual, then a discussion of that process needs to be had with the employee. This is a gray area when social networks are primarily intended as social, not work-related.

Next, on general social media usage, many of our members simply block Facebook and Twitter on company computers, but allow LinkedIn. This is more related to productivity than company image. The linking of personal photos just sounds like a bad idea, unless professional photos and screening is conducted. Many of our folks still struggle on the real business value of having a Facebook page in the first place.

We have one member who lost a church project based upon the social networking research the church administrators did, which uncovered an “inconsistency of values between the church and [the contractor’s] perceived image and practices.” That tells me it would just make sense not to allow linking photos or employee pages to your company site. To me, this is no different than what we tell our own children about the reputation and image their social pages can portray. Colleges, employers, customers and others can and do use this to determine the moral fiber and behavioral habits of the individual. Hope this helps. –CW

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