Does Your Small Business Have a Social Media Policy?

September 21, 2016 Pete Jansons

Small business owners who allow employees to use social media at work stand to benefit from their connections and promotion of the company’s brand. However, smart leaders realize that unflattering, illegal or incorrect information can soon land their businesses in hot water. An ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure when it comes to protecting your small business’s good name, so educate and guide your staff by creating a thoughtful social media policy.

Do’s and Don’ts for Creating a Social Media Policy at Your Small Business

Here are some things to consider when crafting your document on employee social media use:

DO define what company information employees can and cannot share online. Outline what’s considered confidential, and stress that anything remotely in doubt be passed by you before posting.

DON’T make a blanket declaration that staff members cannot say anything negative about your small business or their job on their own pages. Such a statement can be in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, which gives employees the right to discuss their working conditions. Rather, encourage them to bring concerns directly to you instead of venting online.

DO be certain employees know that they are responsible for their online actions. Claiming something “was supposed to be private and only viewed by a few friends” does not get rid of the damage a leak or an inappropriate post could do to your small business, so make consequences clear.

DON’T bury your social media policy in a handbook. Give it to new hires as a separate document, and obtain a signature signaling it has been read and understood. Review the information with staff from time to time to maintain awareness and address questions.

DO spell out standards for posting and conversing on the company’s official accounts. Without the resources for a permanent social media manager, various team members may assume responsibilities at your small business. Be sure anyone representing your company has your permission and is versed in legal issues such as copyright and privacy. Your social media policy also should offer guidance on respectful conduct. The way your employees deal with negative comments and online “troublemakers” impacts your brand’s image. Whether you choose to respond with humor, politely state facts, or ignore the offender, writing out a protocol for how to respond in various situations can provide consistency and ease employee stress over what to do in challenging situations.

DON’T think of your social media policy simply as a list of restrictions. Providing clear guidelines also encourages workers eager to tout your small business understand ways they can use social media to help the company grow. Teach them how to properly comment on blogs or boost excitement for a new product on their own channels, and you’ll create an army of powerful brand ambassadors.


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