A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the social norms and and responsibilities of an individual, party or organization. Nowadays it is an important aspect for companies to create rules for social media use too. People check their social media also while working and this habit won’t go away. Social media has security risks and according to Jylian Russel at Hootsuite blog to avoid them the companies should have guidelines to online behaviour, give social media training to their employees, put someone in charge and invest in secure technology. An article by Techrepublic states that legal problems for businesses can appear if employees reveal confidential information online, say something negative about the company – or if they use the sites to view or distribute illicit or offensive material.
A research of Bambu by Sprout Social shows that 7 in 10 workers in the United States regularly check their social media while at work. Picture: Bambu by Sprout Social
Aliah Wright is a social media expert at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and she recommends that social media policy should define who are allowed to speak on the company’s behalf, have guidelines how to respond to inappropriate postings and inform employees what information they can share about the company. Company should also ensure strong cyber protection to secure their data.
Building a social media strategy… a strip by Sean R. Nicholson (www.socmedsean.com)
Adidas is a giant in sports apparel business and they have a detailed social media policy: “At the Adidas Group we believe in open communication and you are encouraged to tell the world and your colleagues about your work and share your passion.” Some key points of their policy are:
- identify yourself with your name and your role in Adidas Group
- if you’re not an official spokesperson, you must make clear that you’re speaking for yourself and not for the group
- you are personally responsible for the content you publish online
- use common sense – everything you publish will be visible to the world for a very, very long time. If you have doubts, talk to your manager
- don’t publish internal information
- you must follow your confidentiality agreement
- don’t be offensive, respect the audience and your employer
- with all the blogging and interacting, don’t forget your daily job
Another example of digital guidelines by Ford Motor Company. The highlights of their policy are:
- be honest about who you are
- be clear and be respectful in your communication
- inform that your opinions are your own
- share only public information
- be aware that what you say is permanent – the internet remembers
- if there’s a potential controversial issue that may develop to crisis situation, bring it to attention of your superiors
I believe these both are good examples of clear and supportive social media strategies. Especially Adidas encourages their employees to spread the positive word about the company, but they also give good guidelines what to avoid and what you can’t do. I think that an open dialogue with the employer and the employees should be the starting point when creating the code of conduct for the social media, but finally the policy should be considered and confirmed by the management. Then employees would really know what kind of online communication is approved and supported, and what isn’t.