Social media is a great platform for communicating messages to businesses and clients; you can also deliver important messages to people that matter, it’s all about communication, building relationships and brand awareness. However because of the power of social media, and in this case let me use Twitter as an example, it is important that you implement policies that control the usage of social media for work purposes and this also relates to employee usage.
A complaint that I hear on a regular basis is, employees use the platform as a voice to air concerns about their employer. Whilst their comments may seem innocent enough, they are a reflection of the business and it can therefore have a negative impact on reputation. You need a policy that clearly dictates what boundaries should not be crossed when talking about work related issues and this includes fellow workers, managers, workplace logistics, clients and suppliers. Your policy needs to explain to employees what acceptable behaviour is and that it is not just exclusive to twitter, it should involve all social media and include future platforms that may potentially play an integral part of your business.
Any policy you devise should be clearly communicated to existing and new staff. How you police the rules will be at your discretion, however I suggest if an employee wishes to use a Twitter account to discuss work related issues, then the business creates an official account for the individual which is authorised and monitored by you. If the employee then decides to leave your employment then the account can be closed down without the risk of consequences. Sadly I witness a number of employees who have left their previous employment and used social media to post defamatory remarks about their employer, which is in bad taste and of course does not reflect well on the business concerned. So please be mindful when drawing up a social media policy and ensure it is well communicated.
Finally, as an employer, try and steer clear of using social media as a platform to judge and assess the capability of a prospective employee. It is a growing problem and more recruiters admit to using Facebook and Twitter to determine the suitability of a candidate; personally I would discourage employers from doing this. I believe it does not provide a true reflection of candidate suitability, so use the interview as a platform in which to determine if the person is right for your business.