Organizations’ top 3 social media policy mistakes

Social media sites can have a lot of benefits for companies, but organizations also must have a policy to protect themselves. However, those policies often contain a few common mistakes and can end up doing more harm than good. 

If employees use social media improperly, they can cause problems such as leaking confidential information or introducing malware to the company network.

That’s why more and more companies are developing social media policies. Unfortunately, those policies can often fail to prevent issues — and can even end up creating new ones.

Here are a few of the most common social media policy mistakes, according to Chris Boudreaux of

1. Not including managers

Most organizations focus on the ways employee social media use can get them in trouble, but as Boudreaux points out, management is often to blame for problems related to social networks — especially where legal liability is concerned.

“You need to train your managers — those are the people that are creating liability for the company,” Boudreaux says. “Companies aren’t getting sued because their employees said something in social media, they’re getting sued because a manager made a bad decision.”

For example, one recent issue that’s gotten a lot of press is hiring managers demanding job applicants’ Facebook log-in credentials. There have also been cases — often settled out of court — where a manager coerces an employee to turn over a log-in for a private group.

2. Blocking too much

Many companies take too forceful an approach and block social media use even when it’s actually good for business. While some employees should be blocked because of the nature of their jobs, that’s not the case for most people.

“For most organizations that try to restrict employee use of social media, all you’re doing is deliberately forcing your company to fall behind,” Boudreaux says, “because you’re making it so difficult for employees to understand how these technologies work and come up with creative ways to use them to do their jobs better.”

3. Using a one-size-fits-all approach

So how do companies know where to draw the line and block social media use? Organizations will likely have different answers for different employees, Boudreaux says.

“You have to segment your employee base and then answer that question for different segments,” he says.

And it’s probably not just two segments with either all or nothing access. Some people will need to be blocked completely, some will be free to do whatever they want, and others might require some degree of limited access.

So what’s the key to a good social networking policy? Keeping it simple, according to Boudreaux. Organization can also keep a larger, living document including best practices for how their company uses social media to benefit the business, but the policy itself should be a simple document.