Does your company have a social media policy for its employees?

The term social media encompasses a wide range of sites (including Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot, and this one) that allow companies and individuals the opportunity to express themselves in a way that can extend their reach across the globe. An increasing number of companies and individuals use these online avatars to share and sell their ideas, products, services and/or impressions. Those users most likely include your company’s employees, so it’s smart to let them know your expectations, given the potential impact of their posts on your corporate reputation.

E.W. Scripps Co., recently shared its social media policy with The Poynter Institute. As Scripps’ policy points out, the rationale for such policies is reputation protection:

… your social media activities reflect on your reputation and on the reputations of Scripps, its business units and its online presence. Everything you post could have a potential influence on your reputation and the company’s.

For more example social media policies, check this site, or here, or this 2010 post by The Fast Company. For more guidance on writing your own see Social Media Explorer

While some people suggest there is a fine line between reputation protection and censorship, the importance of keeping employees on the right side of that line can’t be overstated. Reputation is a business asset that is easy to lose and difficult to recover. Your employees’ personal opinions and statements can impact how others view your company. A social media policy that keeps them mindful of that fact is a small and a smart investment.

7/28/11 Addendum:  Symantec Corp. this week announced the findings of its 2011 Social Media Protection Flash Poll, which provides some useful support for establishing SM policies.

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