You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Why Annual Social Media Policy Reviews Are Necessary Avoid legal trouble and protect company secrets. Keep employees informed about what's allowed.

By Meghan M. Biro

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

JaysonPhotography / Shutterstock.com

With new social media platforms cropping up all the time, workplace social media rules must go beyond simply discouraging employees from putting off deadlines to play with Snapchat filters. In fact, your corporate social media policy could probably use some updating right now, and on at least an annual basis moving forward to reflect industry changes.

That is, if you even have one! Only 51 percent of people said their employers have social media guidelines in a recent Pew Research Center survey.

No matter the size of your company, ask yourself this: When was the last time you reviewed your company's social media policy? And if you don't have a policy in place, what's holding you back?

Developing a social media policy and keeping it up to date will ensure that your employees are aware of what they can and cannot do, help your company avoid violating any rules and ultimately serve to cover the company's you-know-what.

Here's a closer look at why you'll want to make an up-to-date social media policy a priority.

1. Avoid legal scandals.

All you have to do is recall Chipotle's gaffe from 2015, in which it lost a lawsuit for firing an employee who posted negative items on social media. The court found Chipotle's social media policy actually violated federal labor laws. Ouch!

Work with your legal team to update your policy so it jibes with legal changes coming out of the Federal Trade Commission and the National Labor Relations Board. Your old policy needs to reflect the current legal standards. For instance, the FTC has clear guidelines regarding disclosures and endorsements. See how those affect your social media marketing.

2. Protect company secrets.

As the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) explains, a social media policy may actually help safeguard sensitive data from potential hackers and online scams, especially in a bring-your-own-device environment. Employees should also know what proprietary information about the company must never be shared -- another aspect that needs to be regularly updated as the business grows.

Protect your company's information by identifying what is considered confidential, such as marketing tactics, non-public financials, future product launches and other "for internal use only" communications. Check out GM's social media policy to see how the company spells it out for its workers.

3. Make it clear what type of social media activity is and isn't allowed.

While it might be obvious that posting illicit, offensive or insensitive material on a company-branded social media page is a no-no, it still happens. For the people running social for your company, what checks and balances are in place to avoid a public relations disaster? Are the rules different for each platform? Beyond that, though, there is a lot of gray area regarding if and how employees will be held accountable for what they post on their personal pages -- and who will monitor that.

As I've written before, it's always better to err on the side of caution and be as specific as possible in your social media document. And if you needed another reason why it's so important to continually update and periodically review your policy as new platforms come into play, this is it.

Ideally, effective social media policies should be fluid and responsive to the fast-paced digital world. But at the very least, taking the time to perform a yearly review can save your employees a lot of confusion -- and help your company avoid potential pitfalls.

Meghan M. Biro

Entrepreneur | CEO | Speaker | Author | HR and Tech Evangelist

Meghan M. Biro is a talent management leader, career strategist and digital media catalyst. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture Consulting Group, Meghan has worked with hundreds of companies -- from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google -- helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

A Non-Profit Newspaper Published a Column Criticizing Facebook. Then Meta Blocked All of Its Posts.

Facebook's communications chief said that the posts were removed because of "a mistaken security issue."

Business News

Walmart Shoppers May Be Eligible for $500 After Settlement

Walmart shoppers who purchased weighted goods or bagged citrus in the U.S. or Puerto Rico from late 2018 through early 2024 might be eligible for a share of a $45 million settlement.

Business News

A Look Inside the Company That Is Making $500 Million a Year Serving Italian Beef Sandwiches Made Famous by 'The Bear'

Portillo's CEO Michael Osanloo shares his secret to keeping hungry customers coming back again and again. (Hint: It requires a lot of napkins.)

Business News

Total Solar Eclipse 2024 Live Feed: Where, When and How to Watch the 2024 Eclipse

Here's what to know about the total eclipse 2024 and a live stream from NASA.

Business News

Elon Musk Reveals When Tesla Will Release Its First Robotaxi

Tesla's CEO says the fully autonomous Tesla taxi is arriving soon — in 122 days.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.