Social Media: A Company’s Asset or Liability?

â–¶ Policing Social Media: Social media policies have had their fair share of the limelight lately, what with organizations like ESPN and the U.S. Marine Corps restricting or altogether banning the use of online platforms in the workplace. A new study from Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law takes a close look at management teams’ perception of social media, both as a viable outreach tool and a liability, and offers best practices for developing social media policies to help manage the risks. Among the research findings:

• 81% of surveyed executives believe social media is a corporate security risk;

• 51% fear social media could be detrimental to employee productivity; and,

• 49% believe that using social media could damage company reputation.

As for the perceived value of social media:

• 81% of respondents believe social media enhances relationships with customers/clients and builds their companies’ brands;

• 69% think it’s a viable recruitment tool; and,

• 64% think it’s a customer service tool, and 46% believe it can enhance employee morale.

When asked to cite their reasons for using social media, respondents named the following:

• Read what customers may be saying about their company: 52%

• Monitor a competitor’s use of social media: 47%

• See what current employees may be sharing: 36%

• Check the background of a prospective employee: 25%

As for their reasons for not using social media:

• 51% don’t know enough

• 40% cite confidentiality/security issues

• 14% are currently researching/planning

• 7% don’t believe there is a need for it

And, finally, with regard to social media policies:

• 69% of respondents don’t have a written social media policy;

• Of those, 25% blame not being sure what to include;

• 13% say it’s never been addressed; and,

• 9% don’t think it’s important.

The report goes on to offer 10 key elements of a good social media policy:

1. An overall philosophy

2. Honesty and respect

3. Guidelines that reinforce the company’s policies surrounding confidential and proprietary information in a social media environment

4. Clear parameters defining an employee’s online identity

5. A focus on social media’s relationship to an employee’s job performance

6. A statement addressing how to identify and manage conflicts of interest

7. A disclaimer

8. A statement regarding whether—and to what extent—the company has the right to monitor social media usage, along with associated disciplinary guidelines

9. Universal application to all employees

10. Other company policies

Source: Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law