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. When used wisely it can bring a multitude of advantages to a business, however if derogatory comments are made against your business then it can tarnish your reputation. Remember it is not just clients that can post negative comments, disgruntled employees can also be guilty. In addition what may seem like an innocent comment posted on social media can also be down out of proportion and again be potentially damaging to a business - so it is very important that you put in place HR policies
that reflect your stance on social media and outline the behaviour that you expect from your employees.
You need to draft a policy that stipulates 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. Remember if a comment is posted about a certain employee [even if the individual is not named] then this could potentially be deemed as bullying or harrasment, so you will need to make it very clear in your policy that this behaviour is not tolerated.
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.
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, rely solely on the CV, merit and of course the job interview - steer clear of using social media as a barometer to check the suitability of a candidate.
For more information please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.