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Does Your Company Have a Social Media Policy?

March 27, 2011

Just a drop in the social media bucket.

I used to work at a company that no social media policy.  Instead management used fear to control its employees’ Internet usage.  Employees would be online either for fun or work and when management walked in, they would quickly click to an official work site.  Even if they were using the Internet for official work purposes, and employee would feel guilty.

So one day everyone arrived at work and discovered that the powers that be removed access to Facebook and Twitter and a few other popular sites from employees’ computers.  The threat had been made a few times, but after one of the employees had complained about their Flash expiring from their computer (they liked to watch TV shows streaming on the computer), everyone was without access to several of the popular social media sites.  Not surprisingly, this did not go over well.

Most of the employees could understand why Facebook was removed but when they discovered that sites like Fox News and Google were gone, anger flared up.  Sure a news site isn’t too important, but we actually used Google.  Bing & MSN were still available, so it may be have been a Microsoft conspiracy, but more likely it was a clumsy, reckless attempt at trying to control the employees.

I can understand the thought behind encouraging (putting it nicely) employees to focus on the work they were hired to do and stay away from distractions.  I can understand that sites like Facebook and the like are perceived by many as a waste of time.  Of course there are many… millions (has it reached a billion?) who find Facebook and other social media sites to not only be a form of entertainment but valuable business tools.  The director of my office was on the side that “didn’t get it.”  He was all too willing to call it foolish.  This inspite of the fact that this organization used Google Adwords and occasionally had ads on this very website.

What it really comes down to is that the company had no outlined social media policy.  Other than the stern warning of “don’t use the internet improperly,” there was nothing said as to what was good or bad use of the Internet.  Two things come to mind here.  First, I was of the impression that the company hired adults, so the company should treat the employees like adults.  Second, by outlining a specific company social media/Internet policy employees would be empowered to make positive decisions about how they were spending their work time and also feel comfortable about taking a mental break as well as lunching at their desk and maybe catching the latest Rebecca Black video.

Does your company have a social media policy?  If no, they should develop one.  By contacting an attorney who’s knowledgeable about the ‘net and actually uses it, your company can develop a sensible social media policy and create a more positive work atmosphere with employees who will have a greater respect for management.

Jack Lugar is the one and only Jackodile.  He is an attorney with The Foster Group in Indiana; broker/owner of the boutique residential real estate company, Lugar Real Estate, LLC; and a writer, having formerly written for prime time television and recently published his first humor book, The Starving Artist’s Diet.  You can find out more about Jack at http://www.about.me/JackLugar.

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