Do’s and Don’ts for Managing Employee Social Media Use
• Have a plan to manage employee social media use. Employers can be held vicariously liable for legal liability arising out of their employees’ social media use. For example, Employees could leak sensitive company or client information or even the employer’s intellectual property, trade secrets and/or copyrights.
• Implement a consistent social media use policy. Think about the code of conduct you expect from your employees as well as the business’s social media goals. This will empower your employees with the information they need to use social media in a responsible manner.
• Implement the policy on a company wide basis. The policy should apply to interns, managers and everyone between. Consider independent contractors when thinking about your policy.
• Designate a contact person for your employees to ask questions about the social media policy.
• Monitor your employees’ social media use responsibly.
• Fire or discipline an employee for social media posts without ensuring the basis is sound. Employers should look at the broad scope prior to taking action, including the employee’s past actions and interactions, the intent behind a social media post and considering past conduct or the context within the statement.
• Overreach with your social media policy.
• Enforce the policy inconsistently. Uniform enforcement will protect employers in potential litigation with fewer reasons to a claim of retaliatory discipline or being singled out.
• Look at the big picture. Employers should look at the broad scope prior to taking action, including the employee’s past actions and interactions, the intent behind a social media post and considering past conduct or the context within the statement.
Taking these steps makes business and legal sense and may limit exposure to costly legal problems. It also empowers employees with the information they need in order to responsibly use social media. When drafting a social media plan, think about what is important to your business: sensitive client lists, client information, trade secrets, competitors, and the code of conduct you expect from your employees.