Learning & Development

How to Craft a Social Media Policy for Your Employees in 2024

These days, a social media policy isn’t just an afterthought—it’s a must. The vast majority of your employees likely engage in some type of social media usage, whether they’re constantly sharing snippets of their days on TikTok, sharing interesting articles on LinkedIn, or just occasionally checking up on their cousins on Facebook. Social media is like a digital business card—it shows the world a very small snippet of who you are, but that snippet can pertain really important information. That’s why it’s so important for your company to have some kind of guidelines on how your employees should or shouldn’t talk about the workplace on social media.

social media
Source: CLS Digital Arts / shutterstock

A social media policy is simply a set of rules your company has in place that lay out how your employees are allowed to talk about the workplace online. It’s part of your code of conduct that helps employees understand how and in what way they represent the brand in the digital space. Typical social media policies might outline things like the importance of digital security, how to ensure legal compliance, or what to do in a crisis. It’s important to have all of your employees on the same page so that everyone understands expectations and proceeds accordingly.

But it can seem like an intimidating task. What should it include? How long does it need to be? And does it absolutely have to include consequences? What if employees feel like you’re butting into their private life? The process can seem so nebulous that it’s easy to just push it aside and cross your fingers that no issues arise. The obvious problem with that strategy? When issues do arise, you have absolutely no way of dealing with them. Trust will erode the relationship between you and your employees, it will be difficult to maintain consistency, and the reputation of your brand could be damaged long-term.

But in 2023, social media policies may look different than they did in the past. That’s why there’s no better time to look over your policy and tweak it as necessary. Here’s how to craft a social media policy that actually works for your employees in 2024.

Consider Your Company’s Values

One of the most important things to keep in mind when crafting a social media policy is that your business is unique. Things might matter to you that don’t to others, or vice versa. Just because one company makes a rule that their employees can never discuss company business on Facebook doesn’t mean that you have to, or just because other companies seem to value radical transparency doesn’t mean you have to let social media be a free-for-all. Think of what your company values, which may include considering your industry, size, and overall company culture. Take some time to really look at your mission statement and values before implementing any social media policy to ensure that the policy is consistent with who you are as a brand. As new platforms are popping up and new algorithm changes are prioritizing different types of content, you might want to reevaluate where you’re comfortable with your employees discussing your company and in what manner you’re comfortable with them doing so.

Start With a Template (Or Utilize AI)

That being said…don’t be afraid to utilize a template! Staring at a blank page can give anyone flashing cursor syndrome. But it’s easier to edit something than it is to start it. There are plenty of examples of social media policy templates online you could use. You could even ask your preferred AI software to whip one up for you, or do tweak a previous template (“make this more informal”, “rearrange this in a more effective way”. AI has made documents like social media policies much easier to create on short notice. While you want to make sure a social media policy is in tip-top shape before sharing it with employees, you do need to start from somewhere. Don’t reinvent the wheel when you can find great starting places at your fingertips online.

Decide on Consequences

Nobody likes to talk about what happens when boundaries are crossed and employees break previously-agreed upon deals. But without consequences, a policy is just a piece of paper. It becomes really more of a suggestion than anything, and that isn’t what you’re going for.  Furthermore, a lack of clear, outlined consequences could lead to confusion for employees if things aren’t consistent across the board. Maybe one manager doesn’t take the social media policy that seriously, so they’re light-handed on any employees that break it, while one manager thinks it’s incredibly important and really brings the hammer down. That can breed resentment across teams, interrupt workflows, and introduce toxicity into your workplace culture. By having a clear set of consequences laid out for what happens when the policy is broken, you have a direct set of rules you can turn to and no employee can claim either ignorance or mistreatment.

Create an Implementation Plan

Lastly, it’s important to decide how your social media policy is going to be implemented. It might be as simple as shooting an email to your employees—but it might not. If your policy is a lot different than what you had previously, it may be worth an information session or individual meetings. Consider who’s going to deliver the message: it could be your human resources department, but it could also be left up to individual managers. It could be announced all at once, or it could be announced to higher-ups first. It could start immediately, or it could have a starting date in the near future. Think about the best way to disperse the information and remember that the more drawn out your implementation plan is, the more employees will hear about it through the pipeline (and the information they receive may or may not be correct). Decide how you’re going to share the new policy with employees and what you’re going to do to welcome feedback.

Claire Swinarski is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *