Mail & More: Social Networking Policy
1: A clear company philosophy
Before you can develop a policy, you need to define the company’s overall attitude toward social networking. Is it something that you consider to be a strictly personal activity, what should be generally restricted? For Mail & More, it would be ideal to keep it casual but not too personal since this is still a business. For example, individuals can write about their daily experience and share what happened or what they are interested in that day.
2: The definition of “social networking”
It may seem obvious, but it’s important that your policy define what is meant by “social networking” or “social media,” since the term means different things to different people (Facebook, Flicker , Indaba (musicians’ collaboration site), or LiveJournal (blogging site) For Mail & More, our definition will be confined to Facebook since we do not do Flicker, MySpace or Indaba. * As we expand, this policy will not be limited to Facebook only.
3: Identifying oneself as an employee of the company
Mail & More employees shall identify themselves as Mail & More employees. Most social networking sites have fields in the user profile for work experience, job title, etc. By identifying oneself as an employee of Mail & More Inc., a social networker becomes, to some extent, a representative of that company, and everything he/she posts has the potential to reflect on the company and its image. This touches on responsibility as a company and representation of the company in a professional manner. If social networking users identify themselves as employees of Mail & More Inc, our policies should require that any personal blogs and other personal posts contain disclaimers that make it clear that the opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of the company. *You are required to include the following disclaimer in a reasonably prominent place: “The views expressed on this post are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Mail & More Inc.”
4: Recommending others
Some social sites provide for members to write recommendations or referrals for friends/associates. If an employee does this as a representative of the company, it may give the appearance that the company endorses the individual being recommended. That could create a liability situation if another company hires the recommended person on the basis of the recommendation. For that reason, Mail & More shall prohibit employees from making such recommendations or referrals.
5: Referring to clients, customers, or partners
Mail & More’s relationships with clients, customers and partners are valuable assets that can be damaged through a thoughtless comment. Even a positive reference could be picked up by a competitor and used to our company’s disadvantage. Since referring clients has such a disadvantage, employees are not to refer any clients, customers, or partners without obtaining their express permission to do so.
6: Proprietary or confidential information
Even though we may have other policies that cover the dissemination of the company’s proprietary or confidential information, trade secrets, etc., this policy reiterates those policies and further more adds the following: Because social networking communications are somewhat informal, it’s easy for employees to develop “loose lips” - especially when they think they are discussing only among themselves. Divulging info such as Company’s financial information, intellectual property, information about customers and special promotions or plans by the company is prohibited.
7: Terms of Service
Mail & More employees and Facebook users shall be required to read this document before using any social networking site. Employees shall be held responsible for reading, knowing, and complying with the Terms of service.
8: Copyright and other legal issues
All Mail & More employees are required at all times to comply with the law in regard to copyright/plagiarism. Posting of someone else’s work without permission is not allowed (other than short quotes that comply with the “fair use” exceptions). Other relevant laws include those related to label and defamation of character. A good rule of thumb is the one our mothers taught us long ago: “If you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything at all.” Defamatory statements can lead to lawsuits against the author of the statement — and if that is one of us, at the very least it can bring bad publicity for the company. This has happened on twitter!
9: Productivity impact
Social networking sites can be good tools for developing business relationships, but they can also turn into big time-wasters. It’s easy to set rules for purely personal use of the sites, but it’s more difficult to draw the lines when it comes to business-related networking. As with the “six martini lunch,” appropriate use often slips gradually into abuse without the employee even realizing it. Therefore, Mail & More employees shall not engage on social networking activities that interfere with the employee’s primary job responsibilities. Specifically, employees are warned not to spend more than 3hrs on Facebook while at work.
10: Disciplinary action
Failures to comply with this policy will result to unpleasant consequences. These may include: Disciplinary action, suspension and termination.
11. What to write/post about
Write about what you know. Don’t speak on behalf of the company; you are not the spokes person. At the same time always seek permission before submitting writing. Participate don’t promote. Give in order to get something back. Narrow focus, establish presence, expand reach, nurture relationships and maintain presence.