A social media strategy is not just about what you say on Twitter and Facebook. It?s about what your staff say about you and about each other, whether they do it in work time or not.
Social media harrassment and bullying
A social media strategy is important to any business, whether you actively use social networking sites as part of your marketing campaigns or not. Social media training can act either as a way of introducing a strategy to your employees or as a way of flagging up what elements your strategy should include.
One of the least attractive elements to social networking sites is the ability it affords those who wish to harass or bully another person.? It is important that you mention in your staff contract that your bullying policy applies to social networking sites, whether done on employees own time or not.
There are various issues relating to you as an employer and social networking sites.? You need to be know where you stand with the law and how you would handle various issues including:
- Cyber bullying. This is the term given to any form of bullying, harassment and victimisation conducted via social networking websites. Includes the use of blogs, Twitter, Facebook to post photographs or offensive or threatening comments about colleagues.
- Social exclusion. Nobody wants to be a billy-no-mates and social exclusion is an insidious form of bullying.? Being left out of a group which everyone else is invited to is not limited to the internet, but online this is a very subtle form of attack.
- Employer responsibility outside office hours. Social media tools, such as emails and smart phones, mean that bullying between employees can more easily be conducted out of working hours and off work premises.
What is bullying and what is freedom of speech?
Many people labour under the illusion that if they post their own thoughts on their own private page, this is merely freedom of speech rather than bullying.? However as in the case of a worker in Northern Ireland who lost his job last year after posting derogatory comments about a co-worker on Facebook, this is a complete myth, and freedom of expression is lost if not exercised responsibly.
Harassment can occur when comments are made to others without the victim being present and all rights to a ?private life? are lost when comments are posted on a public forum like Facebook, even if the poster has privacy settings on their page.
What can you do?
In the first instance, cross-company social media training can address all these issues and ensure that all staff are aware of what they can and can?t do with regards to social media.? Ensure that all your company handbooks are updated regularly with regard to social networking (i.e whether it is allowed in company hours and through company IT channels).
Give consideration to widening your bullying policies to include cyber bullying, but this should be done in consultation with your employee representatives or trade unions where appropriate, and alert staff to the possibility that their digital activities may be monitored.