The news has been filled with stories about employees making comments on social media that their employers have deemed inappropriate, harmful, even libelous. In one situation, the employee accidentally used a corporate account rather than his personal account. That blunder resulted in his termination.  With an infringement such as that, the company was clearly within it’s rights to terminate the employee, but what if the comments are made on a personal account. That situation is much more complicated.

It’s important that your employees know your expectations and how their actions may affect their employment. Rules  and guidelines need to be put in place before a public relations crisis happens.

i worked at an organization where an employee was making negative comments about customers on her Facebook page. Although she did not identify the organization or the customers, there were details of conversations that were quite identifiable and she identified her employer on her “About” information. In addition, she made disparaging comments about her supervisor’s sexual orientation. Although inappropriate, the organization had no policy concerning this behavior and could not take action against the employee.

The first step is deciding whether or not your organization wants to be involved in monitoring employees social media accounts. As this seems daunting, many organizations decide not to deal with the situation until there is a problem.

But it’s not about monitoring accounts, it’s about setting expectations and making your employees an advocate for your business.

1) Set clear expectations for employees as to what is acceptable and what isn’t concerning company identity.

2) Encourage employees to like and share posts. Employees supporting your posts on social media will raise you in the algorithms used to display posts. Offer awards and incentives for the most active employees. I have found something as simple as candy bars can encourage employees to interact more with company social media.

3) Check with your legal department, if you have one, as to what action you can and cannot take against employees who disparage the company brand.

4) Most importantly, create a positive company environment where employees are treated fairly and want to be your corporate cheerleaders.