Managing the Use of Social Media

We are all aware of the transformative powers of marketing through social media, however, the popularity that makes social media so effective can also hinder your business’s performance. The challenge for businesses is to balance social media’s good “Dr Jekyll” qualities against its destructive “Mr Hyde” aspects. Social media can be a valuable marketing tool for businesses if used correctly. Both commercial and non-commercial bodies have adopted social media as a means of increasing their brand profile, disseminating information and building relationships with clients. The problem for businesses is that many employees utilise work time on personal social networking sites including sites such as Facebook and Twitter. More than 75% of Australians have a Facebook profile and spend an average of more than 5 hours per month on Facebook. [1] While business can impose restrictions on employees’ use of social media in the workplace or during working hours, they must be careful not to infringe employees’ statutory rights under the Fair Work Act and human rights legislation. In circumstances where the employer sanctions the use of social to network, exchange ideas and generally promote the workplace, the employer has an obligation to ensure that the content does not negatively affect the employer-client relationship. Examples include protecting confidential client or workplace information, complying with relevant legislation and adhering to any professional rules or guidelines.  Employers must also ensure that the workplace and its employees are protected.

A policy on social media is an important tool in managing the marketing aspect of social media and reducing its impact on your businesses’ productivity.

When developing your social media guideline it is important to:

  1. Distinguish between authorised use and private use.
  2. Review relevant legislation and professional organisation requirements.
  3. Ensure that any material that is placed on the site has relevant disclaimers.
  4. Set out consequences for breaches of the policy.

Obviously, one social media guideline cannot be applied to all circumstances.  It may mean that different policies may be required within a single organisation. Should you require assistance in social media guidelines and/or discussion regarding potential breaches of any legislation contact:

Matthew Bridger | e: mbridger@elringtons.com.au | p: 02 6206 1300 http://elringtons.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Specialist-accreditaion.jpg

[1] Comscore http://www.comscore.com/