Everyone shares things online, but how do you protect your business from employees and partners that share a little too much? It’s an industry standard to now include online sharing agreement with anyone involved in your business. Although 73 percent of workers say they actively use social media, over 60 percent of employees said they didn’t sign an online agreement with their company.
Having a separate contract solely dedicated to what everyone can and cannot share online will help prevent any PR disasters. Lawyers always recommend that the best way to prevent any kind of crisis is to prepare for it. Writing out an online sharing agreement will let your employees know that it’s okay to share their lives online, but they should always be mindful. All employees are representatives of the company and their professional personas, even on personal accounts.
What Should be in Your Agreement
Remember to include any form of social media from Facebook to even dating apps. Prepare for the platforms to quickly change and update as they become more advanced, and new apps become popular. The social media agreement should also include all departments and positions, including higher-ups or management positions. Every employee and partner should be expected to conduct the exact same behavior online. Therefore, no matter who is posting, everyone involved with your business knows how to represent themselves. Here are six statements that you should include in your online sharing agreement.
1. Representing Your Company
Social media managers will always ask themselves “is this post representing what my business accurately” before posting. Although your employees do have a right to separate their personal and professional lives, remind your employees that your business is still a part of who they are. When making this statement, mention your business’ brand and how that should be represented. For instance, if you have a company that advocates for cruelty-free products, you wouldn’t want your employees to post
2. Respectful Engagement
Everyone has had at least one or two negative interactions online. In your online sharing agreement, you should remind your partners and employees that how they interact with others says a lot about how they handle stressful situations. If your company already has a conflict-resolution statement, incorporate that into how your employees should engage with others online.
Remind your employees to be respectful, polite, and patient while online. It’s also a good practice to ask your employees to assess what they say before and after posting something online. Mention that this helps the company avoid PR disasters, and prevents employees from involving themselves in unnecessary online drama.
3. Confidentiality and Data Protection
This may be the most important part of your online sharing agreement. You should consult a lawyer when you draft this section of your contract. Make explicit statements about what business information employees can and cannot be share online. Employees and partners should be encouraged to share a lot about your business, especially in a professional and promotional way. For instance, LinkedIn has helped millions of people create professional connections. However, there are some parts of your business that really shouldn’t be shared online.
Things such as stocks, personal information, and data that could put your company at risk if they’re shared online. Developing this section of your agreement with the expertise of a lawyer will ensure that your business’ data remains confidential. You and your business could face serious legal repercussions if an employee shares confidential data online.
This section of your agreement illustrates when your employees and partners are allowed to share exciting business information. That way, nothing is shared before the company is ready to share. Remember to include specifics about what your employees agree to have shared about themselves such as pictures and promotional information.
4. Create a Positive and Encouraging Message
Your partners and employees shouldn’t feel discouraged or afraid to post online. They should, in fact, be encouraged to use social media and learn how to balance their professional and lives. However, everyone involved in your business should understand the risks and opportunities social media can bring. Emphasize that social media should be for positivity, information, and sharing. Anything that your partners or employees share should always be respectful, non-discriminative, and non-harmful.
5. Decide on Disciplinary Action
It can be difficult to put an employee or partner under investigation for online misconduct. Even if the post wasn’t intentionally harmful, it can still have a seriously negative affect on your business. Your social media agreement should make a clear statement about the disciplinary actions against agreement breaches. No matter how high up the individual, the terms of the disciplinary action should be upheld. Our experts recommend speaking with a lawyer about the best and legal course of disciplinary actions.
Develop a Social Media Crisis Plan
Before you develop your social media sharing agreement, you should also develop a crisis plan. Decide what happens if your company or someone associated with your company undergoes a PR mishap. Break down your crisis plan into levels based on the severity of a possible incident. Although you might expect that people would have “common sense” when using social media, people can still make mistakes.
With a social media crisis plan, your business will avoid further setbacks in the event of a crisis like partner participating in sexually illicit conduct. It can get uncomfortable thinking of your employees and partners participating in extremely crude behavior online.
Need Some More Advice?
My Case Helper works with thousands of qualified business lawyers who can tell you what you should and shouldn’t put into your agreement. Your online sharing agreement should also be easy to read, and accessible for everyone to see. A lawyer can help you write an easy-to-read agreement that is both fair and encouraging to your employees. If you’d like to have a free consultation with one of our Premier Partners, call the number at the top of your screen to speak to someone in your area today!