CommCore Blog and News

Corporate Social Media Policies

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News publisher Gannett’s new social media policy for employees (including reporters) underscores the double-edged sword that social media is to businesses. Gannett, like many of our clients, wants all the benefits of advancing the brand and engaging with eyeballs (customers) while at the same time trying to minimize the risks of off-message postings, and possible breaches of organizational confidentiality and other issues.

If you are thinking about your own social media policies, the second annual global survey of multinational businesses by Proskauer Rose law firm taken in 2012 found:

  • More than 40% of employers surveyed agreed it was advantageous to let their employees engage in social media, a 25% increase from the 2011 survey
  • During the same period, the number of employers monitoring their employees’ social media activities rose from 27% to 36%
  • Also during the same period, the number of businesses that have initiated formal social media policies increased from 55% to 69%, with many policies covering social media activities both at home and at work
  • Just over one quarter of employers block all employee social media access from the workplace, about the same as 2011

The increasing number of organizational social media policies has become a regulatory and free speech controversy. Nonetheless, it is clear that organizations will try to put some guidelines for social media communication in place. We suggest the following steps:

  • Run your proposed social media policy by an expert in labor or employment law, including regulations in foreign countries for global firms
  • Include communications, sales/marketing, HR, in-house counsel and IT departments in the conversation
  • Be specific rather than general when drafting the policy. Explain clearly what types of social media activity are prohibited and why (discriminatory postings, releases of trade secrets and other confidential information such as client communications, offensive postings, etc.)
  • Seek employee input and position the eventual policy as one of self-interest to the enterprise
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