Are You in the 60% of Companies That Don't Have a Social Media Policy?
Image credit Case Central (client)
Caught in my Facebook news feed yesterday was this Wall Street Journal article about the CFO of fashion retailer Francesca's Holdings Corp being fired for improper use of his personal social media channels.
Specifically, he used his public Facebook page and Twitter channel to share confidential financial information with personal opinions. The Journal article transcribes a few, but these are the most egregious:
On March 13 Mr. Morphis posted on Facebook about a company earnings call: "Earnings released. Conference call completed. How do you like me now Mr. Shorty?"
Months earlier, on Dec. 5, he posted about another investor call. "Cramming for earnings call like a final. I thought I had outgrown that..."
Mr. Morphis also posted about an investor road show on Jan. 27: "Roadshow completed. Sold $275 million of secondary shares. Earned my pay this week." (The retailer held an initial public offering last July.)
What stood out more in the article was the citation of a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey this year that said only 40 percent of companies have a formal social media policy in place, even though more than half (52 percent) include social media as part of their marketing strategies. Given how entrenched Facebook is in our culture, this is fairly shocking to me.
The Need for a Separate Formal Social Media Policy
The fact that the CFO was "terminated for cause" was probably a result of violating other employee policies that the company had in place, including a financial disclosure policy. But the question in my mind is how specific these policies were with regards to social media channels.
In our work with clients to help develop their social media policy, there is an absolute need for a separate policy for social media use since there are so many complex nuances and scenarios that need to be spelled out. These policies need to include do's and don'ts and best practices for all of the different forms of social media that exist, including personal blogs and Twitter channels.
The Need for Ongoing Training
It's not enough to put a separate policy in place. This needs to be accompanied by a formal certification training as well as ongoing education for the proper set up of social media profiles and privacy settings, and ways to use these channels in conjunction with company events (e.g. user conferences and trade shows). These training programs are delivered through our integrated PR and social media services we provide to our clients.
If you are reading this now, and you are not aware of a social media policy in place, perhaps it's time to ask your HR leader if one exists.
If you have one in place, what are the key considerations you believe should be part of it?