Social media has changed rapidly over the last decade. In the past, with static platforms like the early version of Facebook dominating the scene, it was generally enough for employers to bar employees from using company devices to post nonwork-related content online and to mandate that work posts be business appropriate.
But with social media evolving to platforms like TikTok (where users can upload videos to be filtered through a feed and shared with millions of other users) taking over, it’s probably time to call an employment lawyer familiar with social media trends to review and update your policy.
In the interim, while you may be tempted to ban employees from posting on TikTok or similar apps, that may not be a great idea. After all, employees who are active on social media may be in a good position to understand the social pulse of your customer base. And enabling employees to make company-sponsored posts demonstrates a sense of trust, which can make employees feel more valued.
Additionally, a new generation of employees are accustomed to networking, collaborating and problem-solving via social media. Enabling this in your workplace might make your company more desirable to Gen Z and younger millennial applicants.
Still, it’s important to make sure your policy has the right provisions to address legal and business concerns. A big one is privacy and confidentiality, both at the official jobsite and in remote work settings. For example, an employee who makes a TikTok recording of their cool at-home workspace while a Zoom meeting is in progress could be broadcasting proprietary information to the world.
Additionally, from a reputational standpoint, social media consumers prefer posts that seem authentic and un-staged, which means people posting are trying to be “real.” This can result in employees sharing information that makes the company look bad (for example, complaints about colleagues or working conditions). This kind of posting needs to be addressed in a social media policy.
So what, then, should an updated policy include? First, it should include a reminder that all existing workplace policies — including anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and confidentiality policies — apply in a social-media context. It should also address unique risks that arise in a setting where employees are encouraged to engage with the brand and where the company is trying to maintain a strong social media presence.
The policy also needs to be in writing and followed consistently. But these are just broad parameters. You need an attorney to help you fill in the details.