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When it comes to operating a company, the Internet has undoubtedly made things simpler. Social networking and timely emails have saved valuable time spent talking around the water cooler. Bulky file cabinets for tangible papers are no longer required. Instead, they’re replaced with a small laptop or mobile device that gives you access to all of your information and documents.

Company's Social Media Policy

But, to what extent have computers and the internet simplified business to make it more efficient?

The odd phone contact from an employee’s family may be replaced with text messages every three minutes from your office manager’s exuberant adolescent, while your accounts manager just wrote on Facebook that he drank 12 mojitos at the company party last weekend. Your secretary just tweeted, “I hate Mondays,” and you discovered this morning that two of your staff went away for the weekend together based on an Instagram selfie. Yes, our personal technology and social networks have undoubtedly jeopardised enterprises and called into question the judgement of our staff… But does it have to be that way?

If you don’t have a section in your employee handbook on social media policies for posts and images, you should (and if you don’t, put it at the top of your To Do List immediately). You can’t forbid Internet use, private social media use, or personal email accounts, and you can’t monitor everyone all of the time – not to mention that your staff would hate you if you did – but you can establish some kind of business social media policy.

Here are five tips to help your employees understand what is and isn’t suitable business conduct online:

1) Your staff are a representation of your business. What they write on the internet might be viewed by prospective clients, present customers, bosses, or future bosses. “Would you want to work with this person?” they should question themselves.

2) If your employee does write about work, the posts should not be derogatory or reveal any information that is sensitive or proprietary to the firm or other companies with whom you may be dealing.

3) Copyright laws, individual and corporate privacy, financial disclosures, logos, trademarks, and anything else that may infringe laws protecting intellectual property rights must all be respected in social media posts from business accounts.

4) If you have an employee who is your social media manager, develop a distinct set of standards and objectives for this job to guarantee they are in accordance with business policy.

5) Don’t forget to mention that the corporation has the right to request that certain topics be avoided, articles be withdrawn, and improper comments be removed.

This is only a sample, so you may want to check what other firms have come up with by putting “Social Media Policy” into your search engine. In terms of privacy regulations and what you can and cannot include, you should consult with a lawyer to see whether your rules are within your rights as an employer.