Rapid Rise in Monitoring Employee Use of Social Media
Without a doubt, one of the most sought after services among social media management firms is reputation management and monitoring of employee social media usage. In fact, the growth rate isn’t just significant, it’s off the charts and with good reason. Currently fewer than 1 out of every 10 companies monitor employee use of social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter while nearly 80% of employees report using such sites on a regular basis. According to researchers, the number of employers monitoring workers is expected to rise from fewer than 1 out of every 10 to nearly 6 out of every 10 within the next year demonstrating an exceptionally strong demand.
Right Way – Wrong Way
Legitimate Need to Know
Why the upsurge in employee monitoring of social media usage? In part, there is a legitimate need to know what employees might be saying, posting or sharing with others. For instance, here are just a few valid concerns cited by small business owners seeking information about employees use of social media…
1. Productivity. Without a doubt, it’s easy for employees to become sidetracked while working but in some instances, a simple habit may become a major source of lost productivity…or worse, a legal liability. Did an employee actually perform the work or were they otherwise engaged in a personal pastime like checking their Facebook page? The issue becomes even more urgent if an accident or other related injury is at stake; was an employee posting to Twitter while driving? It could make the difference between a major lawsuit and some degree of personal responsibility.
2. Reputation Management. Employees are covered by freedom of speech but that doesn’t mean they can post any and everything. Corporate communications are tricky business which is one reason the HR department tends to place a high value on the ability to communicate with media relations but all that hard work can go straight down the drain if an employee goes on a rant. Thanks to the rapid sharing capacity of social media, what started as a personal tirade can quickly turn into a public relations nightmare if not properly managed.
3. Leaks. How many times have you seen a quick photo or video of a prototype product? Expect a lot more of it without diligent surveillance of employee uploaded pictures and YouTube contributions. Of course, leaks aren’t limited to prototypes but may also include sensitive client or partner data, financial news or even confidential information.
Do & Don’t
Clearly there is a valid need to know but that doesn’t mean a small business should take it upon themselves to violate an employee’s privacy or right to freedom of speech. Social media consulting firms are the first step in assisting a company in the creation of a viable…and legal…approach to monitoring employees use of social media.
- Do create a comprehensive social media policy.
- Don’t ask for personal passwords!
- Do implement an alert system designed to notify users of specific mention of your company, key individuals or projects.
- Don’t over-react to an employee having a bad day or doing a little “spouting off”. It’s bound to happen even in the best of employees.
- Do take time to investigate questionable uses of social media in clear violation of working hours and access.
- Don’t use social media to gather sensitive information on the private lives of employees especially related to gender, age, religion or other protected status.
- Do monitor employee use of equipment and activities during working hours.
- Don’t comment or participate in debates which reflect the individuals belief or preference outside of work.
- Do use privacy controls for select social media sites especially for employees that are not approved for official company communications.
- Don’t spy! Make sure employees are aware of what steps will be taken to protect company property and reputation as well as any possible actions associated with infringement.
- Do institute an advanced warning system to identify pending threats in advance.
- Don’t wait for a problem to arise. Decide in advance whether or not to provide employees with company phones, iPads and other technology or allow the use of personal devices. Do implement official software and outsourced services to perform proper security and surveillance. Monitoring isn’t the problem. In fact, many business entities routinely record telephone calls and video feeds of all actions. By using automation, software and outsourced social media monitoring services, business owners have the peace of mind in knowing they are in compliance with applicable laws without worry of violating employee rights.
Social media monitoring is a growing area of concern among business owners of all sizes with 60% planning to implement some type of program but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Proper planning, automation and alerts provide valuable insight into employee conduct without violating privacy or other rights.