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Beth Caldwell Pittsburgh, like the rest of the country, has seen its share of social media shenanigans. Damages from careless or immoral online posts can be devastating to a company. In one day, costs can exceed tens of thousands of dollars, including the loss of clients and reputation that may take years to rebuild. Every company must implement and enforce a solid social media policy.
Pro athletes and employees with big egos will argue that they have the right to freedom of expression. Their “expression” can damage your reputation and cause significant financial loss. Companies that experience a social media crisis often have to hire a PR firm to deal with media issues, hire additional staff to cover phone lines and emails, increase security, and spend hours rescuing relationships with existing customers, contracts and suppliers. One thoughtless post can cause damage that could take years to repair.
If your company does not have a social media policy, it’s important that you have one created, clearly explained and strictly enforced. Employees do not have to be banned from social media, they simply need to agree to conduct themselves with dignity online and off. Remind them that they are a walking, talking, typing and texting representative of a company that has integrity, ethics and expectations of excellence. Their actions and words directly reflect on the organization that employs them. Every individual, regardless of title or salary, should be expected to uphold the company’s reputation and standards.
Social media policies should include:
  • Use of company email accounts: Do not send inappropriate emails.
  • Use of company email addresses: Do not use your company email address for online shopping, online reviews, endorsing books, products, companies or services. Do not use your company email to send non-work related emails even if you are using your home computer.
  • Online social media sites: Accounts must be setup with a personal email address. Do not list the company name, logo, etc. without permission.
  • Texting and Instant Messaging: Same rules as email apply.
  • Anything in writing, online or offline: Always reflect high standards of behavior that are in alignment with the company’s ethics and integrity.
  • Use an attorney who specializes in employment law and a human resource specialist to draft the content of your policy so that it protects the company and clearly outlines expectations and repercussions. For employees working under contract, make a revision to the contract. Like any new policy that is implemented, be sure to clearly communicate what is expected and what will not be tolerated. You’ve worked hard to build your company to where it is today. Don’t put this off and don’t ignore social media issues, the cost can be dire.

Beth Caldwell is a popular author and the founder of the Leadership Academy for Women. Connect with her online here: facebook.com/bethacaldwell, twitter.com/beth_a_caldwell, linkedin.com/in/bethcaldwell.

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