Social Media Policy?

I’ve seen a number of stories lately about business policies regarding social media. Some ponder whether such policies are needed and others document the policies that are emerging.

Unfortunately, the polices I am seeing are not so much about how to use social media, but are instead thinly veiled discouragement. Take for example, JCrew and The Wall Street Journal.

This is somewhat like telling employees not to talk to friends or family about their work.

Hello! Reality check here. Work is a large part of our lives. Our social networks know what we do for a living and they know if we are happy or not. Happy employees talk positively about their employers. Unhappy employees don’t.

I want to comment on two fronts here. First, there really should not be a need for a specific employee social media policies. The company’s policies about employees representing the employer in and out of work and in the media should apply to this space as well as all other activities. Perhaps these policies need an update to mention social media, but certainly what employees can and can’t do is already defined in most organizations.

Second, instead of discouraging social media use, companies need to invest in their employees as ambassadors of their brands. Employees should regularly be briefed on issues, successes and company goals. Employees speak to people all the time about their employers – that’s reality. What employers need to do is make a concerted effort to give them accurate and informed things to talk about.