Controlling How Employees Use Social Media

Although social media can be relatively easy to adopt, it brings with it long-term costs and an increased overhead. Companies need to control how social media tools are used and who gets to use the tools on behalf of a company. Corporate staff cannot just begin using a social media tool and then release content without monitoring what happens. Before using a specific tool, social media staff need to evaluate how much control built-in features provide and decide if that is sufficient to protect their company from the tool’s misuse by both insiders and outsiders. Staff can evaluate social media tools by questioning what types of controls and security are available for the tool and what resources are required to securely use the tool. This can be accomplished by asking and answering a series of questions:

  • ? Who in the company will be responsible for managing the use of the social media tool?
  • ? Who in the company will establish policies and procedures necessary for governing the use of the social media tool?
  • ? How secure can the tool be made from hacking and to prevent it being hijacked?
  • ? How much control will management have over how the tool is used?
  • ? How can control of the account be regained if it is misappropriated?
  • ? How will staff be able to tell if something malicious has happened to the account?
  • ? How will management know if the tool is being improperly used?
  • ? Who will be able to post to the social media account and how can that be controlled?
  • ? Who in the company will be responsible for the day-to-day monitoring of the account, including postings or comments?
  • ? Who in the company will be responsible for training employees on the appropriate use of the social media tool?
  • ? When should management evaluate the results gained from using the social media tool and how will that been accomplished?

As a logical first step, specific staff should be designated responsibility over the use and control of social media tools. But before staff goes too far into the realm of social media, management should develop policies regarding the use of social media tools that are officially used by and represent the company. In addition, before jumping in too far, management should establish some basic policies that are designed to protect the company from inappropriate use of the tools by corporate staff. Social media policies should address how and who uses social media and what constitutes appropriate use by determining

  • ? The social media tools that are authorized for use in the company
  • ? The types of content and examples of services to which the policies apply
  • ? When and why it is appropriate to use social media tools
  • ? When and why it is NOT appropriate to use social media tools
  • ? What constitutes (acceptable/non-acceptable) non-official/personal use of social media and social networking by employees

It may be difficult to cover every potential use or abuse of social media by employees. This may be especially true when it comes to the non-official and personal use of social media by employees. Establishing guiding principles for

90 ? Social Media Warfare: Equal Weapons for All

Table 4.3 Sample Guiding Principles for Social Media Use

The following principles should guide employee use of social media in a non-official/personal capacity:

? Be aware of revealing your company affiliation in online social networks. If you identify yourself as a company employee or have a public facing position for which your company association is known to the general public, ensure your profile and related content (even if it is of a personal and not an official nature) is consistent with how you wish to present yourself as a professional.

? Employees should have no expectation of privacy when using social media tools.

? When in doubt, stop. Don't post until you're free of doubt. Be certain that your post would be considered protected speech for First Amendment purposes. Also, add a disclaimer to your social networking profile, personal blog, or other online presences that clearly states that the opinions or views expressed are yours alone and do not represent the views of the company.

? In a publicly accessible forum, do not discuss any company-related

information that is not already considered public information. The discussion of sensitive, proprietary, or classified information is strictly prohibited. This rule applies even in circumstances where password or other privacy controls are implemented. Failure to comply may result in disciplinary action.

non-official and personal use of social media use can be helpful in covering unforeseen circumstances. A sample set of guiding principles [17] are listed in Table 4.3.

It is also advisable that employees know who in the corporation is designated to manage and use social media on behalf of the company; and all employees should be informed that they, unless specifically designated to do so, should not use social media representing the company. In addition, the use of social media by executives and managers should be controlled and monitored to assure that proprietary information is not being posted and that they properly identify themselves if speaking for the company. Executives are some of the worse people a company needs to deal with when it comes to using social media. In many past cases, the executives have let their personal feelings influence what they post in social media and the company staff spends time and money cleaning up after the mishaps of the executives.

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