This blog originally appeared here.
As we mentioned before, many policies are outdated and were written before much of the latest technologies were around. Considering the year, it's time to update those policies, and one of them needs to be in regards to social media. Not doing so is not only reckless, it opens your company up to a lawsuit, and it relies on more than just what employees post or share on their personal pages; it also includes marketing and advertising.
As we also mentioned before, LinkedIn should only be used professionally. This includes liking and commenting on the posts of others. Even if your posts and comments are professional, the ones you interact with show to others and can reflect poorly on your company. Below are reasons people have gotten fired, and what you should look for in your social media policy.
A marketing company recently came under fire as one of their employees posted hate messages on his personal profile, including those of a certain political affiliation and everyone who believes in any religion. The hate messages included threats of physical violence and even death. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, these posts were made public. Social media policies need to be clear on what is acceptable on a private level and what is unacceptable on any level.
Next, ascertain if your company supports any controversial organization, such as Planned Parenthood or Hobby Lobby. Are you allowed to post the opposite view of the company?
Additionally, find out how vague a post can be and still be allowed. As one former employee found out the hard way, even being vague was grounds to get her fired. She posted, "The Three are working today. Inseparable as always!" Management decided she was being negative against three specific employees (an assistant manager, HR, and a shift manager) and she was let go, despite never mentioning more than the quote provided.
One male employee noticed a product wasn't selling, and he came up with an idea. Each Tuesday, an employee took a picture of themselves with the product. While this seems great from a marketing perspective, a manager got upset and fired the guy who came up with the idea.
Does your social media policy hold you responsible for things you don't even post? One (ex)employee found out the hard way his did. Having drunk a little too much, he threw his drink at another person. While he did not mention it at all on social media, those who saw the incident did. His picture was soon posted and then identified. When word reached his employer, he was fired.
Another obscure thing to look for in your social media policy is, are you required to have social media? We heard from one person who was fired because he did not have a single social media profile. If it is not outlined in the social media policy, this could be ground for a wrongful termination suit.
As part of a social media policy, social media profiles should be registered with the company. Why? One employee found out the hard way when someone with his name posted horrible things, and the company thought it was him and let him go. The more common the name, the more you may consider volunteering this information. Likewise, is it possible to be fired for something someone else posted? This includes someone thinking it's funny to "hack" your profile and post something, or a family member who posted something offensive.
Lastly, be sure your social media policy allows for bad timing. A woman was posting for a company and happened to use a hashtag that ended up trending for a reason different than what she had posted. Had she posted it later, it could have been viewed as taking advantage of a trending hashtag, but she had posted it innocently. Sadly, she was still fired.
Does your company have a social media policy? When was it last updated? It's time to check it.
Prime Financial Recruiting offers services in the secured lending industry, including factoring, asset based lending, and purchase order finance.