Technology April 6, 2010 Last updated April 15th, 2010 1,315 Reads share

Are your employees aware of your Social Media Policy?

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There has been so much written about Social Media Policies in recent times, specifically around whether they are needed and what they should contain.  These points however are not going to be the focus of this blog post, as I don’t want to stray too far.

Rather I would like to use this post to open a discussion about how you ensure your employees are aware of your Social Media Policy.

Let me first set my stall out.  I think a Social Media policy is essential for any organisation, regardless of size.  If we look at what I see as the two polar opposites we can see why having a policy is so key.

First we have the organisations that bury their heads in the sand, and suddenly an employee’s action, on a Social Media tool, causes a critical issue.  I recently heard an excellent example of this on the highly recommended For Immediate Release podcast.  The Israeli army recently had to cancel a military operation due to one of their soldiers posting details on Facebook.  Ok, this is an extreme example, but it serves the point of showing exactly what can happen if you don’t have a policy.

Second we have the organisations that impose complete bans on Social Media, some even stretch this to the entire Internet.  I won’t waste much of my word count on this as I see this approach as completley short sighted and treating your staff like children.  If you want to read more I’d suggest as a great resource.

So let’s say we are in agreement, and the above scenarios show the importance of having a policy. Let’s now go back to the title of this post – how do you ensure employees are aware of the policy?

One thing I’ve noticed in my experience, is that even if you have a social media policy in place, you will continually come across people who are not aware of its existence.  I would hazard a guess that this is not a problem unique to a few organisations.

The story of the Israeli soldier got me thinking about this issue and how it can be overcome.

In some companies there are certain policies that have been converted into an online course e.g. “Preventing Workplace Discrimination”, and “Workplace Health & Safety”.  These courses are tied into an online learning tool, and it is possible to track which employees have or have not taken them.

Perhaps it is time that Social Media Policy is given such treatment, and turned into a mandatory course that all employees must take.  For large organisations, where the infrastructure exists, this could be an online course.  For organisations without this infrastructure it might be appropriate to hold a series of half day inhouse seminars that employees must make time for.

One criticism of this approach is the danger of overkill, and we end up with every policy being turned into a mandatory course.  I suppose that individual employers need to decide if this action is necessary, based on their view of how harmful inappropriate use of Social Media could be.

One thing is for sure, it is not enough to simply create a policy; you must take steps to ensure your employees are aware of it.

So what are your thoughts on this subject?  Is a policy necessary at all?  Is it enough to simply create the policy and hope employees will read it?  What steps can be taken to ensure all employees are made aware of the policy?

Please continue the discussion in the comments.

The views expressed on this post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.

Frank Bradley

Frank Bradley

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