How Far Would You Go to Control Employee Social Media Use?

    August 27, 2010
    Chris Crum

CareerBuilder released some survey findings this week, indicating that over a third of employers in the U.S. are using social media to promote their company, but it’s employee use that still has some businesses worried.

A lot of companies are afraid to let their employees use social media freely, but they’re also afraid not to. On the one hand, there are obvious reputation and brand issues that could come up from irresponsible employees social media use, but on the flipside, some of those issues can be avoided with responsible employee social media use. Of course there are many other benefits as well.

This week, FaceTime Communications introduced a new tool called Socialite, which is a security management and compliance solution for social networks. Available in Software-as-a-service form or as on premises solution, its aim is to give companies control over social media features and communications for users on corporate networks.

A rep for the company says key benefits include the ability to: track users across multiple social media platforms; prevent data from leaving the company, either maliciously or inadvertently; empower IT admin to manage access to Facebook and its thousands of “applets” by category or individual application; manage access to features (ie, who can read, like, comment upon or access 95 distinct features on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter); control Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, so content is required to be pre-approved by corporate communications or other third party; empower IT admin to capture all posts, messages and commentary in context; and export to an archive of choice for eDiscovery.

Social Network Compliance "Organizations in regulated industries are faced with the need to manage the features used and content posted on social networks in order to protect themselves and their customers," said Erin Traudt, Research Director, Enterprise Collaboration and Social Solutions for IDC. "FaceTime’s heritage in the IM and Unified Communications markets should play well as communications move into the social arena, but still require security and compliance controls."

A lot of companies are simply creating social media policies and hoping employees abide. There’s no telling how often or how strictly these are actually enforced. I would guess that a lot of infractions get overlooked until they cause real damage.

Earlier this month, Megan C. Winter with law firm Fisher & Phillips LLP, suggested these 10 tips for employers who want to be proactive about employee issues arising out of social media:

1.  Get familiar with Facebook, LinkedIn or other sites that are popular with your employees.
2. Update current company policies.
3. Consider whether your company environment needs a specific social media policy.
4. Prohibit use of the employee’s company e-mail address.
5. Discourage your managers from "friending" their subordinate employees.
6. Immediately get a copy of any post that is the subject of a complaint.
7. Only use social media for employment screening in a consistent way.
8. Warn managers to follow standard policies for recommendations on LinkedIn or other professional sites.
9. Be aware of possible protected, concerted activity.
10. Above all, use common sense. 

Mashable posted another 10 tips for social media policies about a year ago, but they’re still relevant today:

1. Introduce the purpose of social media
2. Be responsible for what you write
3. Be authentic
4. Consider your audience
5. Exercise good judgment
6. Understand the concept of community
7. Respect copyrights and fair use
8. Remember to protect confidential & proprietary info
9. Bring value
10. Productivity matters

It will be interesting to see if more services like FaceTime’s start being used in corporations as time goes on and social media continues to become more unavoidable.

Would you use monitoring software to track employee social media use? Do you already? Let us know.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.