Social Media Policy and Employee Training

Posted by John H. Heinrichs

May 14

Why Organizations Need a Social Media Policy and Employees Need Training

“A Manpower survey f583a7c8-3e13-4ccf-a09f-ecb036daf2eaof 34,400 organizations worldwide found that only 20 percent (of those organizations) have a social media policy.  ScanSafe, an online security company that provides a website blocking service to thousands of global corporations, found that 76 percent of its clients block social media sites.  9% of organizations have fired employees for using social media at work.  21% of organizations with more than 1000 employees have disciplined employees for using social media at work.  This shows that there clearly is a need for a social media policy at all organizations.  These statistics show that corporations are more interested in keeping their employees away from social media than allowing them to use social media.  When employees use social media it can be a benefit to the organization if it is used right.” (Lim & Heinrichs, 2011-05-30)

Only 20 percent of organizations have a social media policy. 

Social Media Disasters

We all have heard about the disasters caused by bad social media. One such disaster was caused by two employees of a Dominos Pizza outlet who tampered with the pizza and put a video out on the web about their exploits. This incident caused Dominos Corporation some bad publicity, the pizza outlet went out of business and the two employees lost their job and went to jail for food tampering. This is a good reason to have a Social Media policy as well as a training program to go along with it.

The Right Way to Use Social Media

To use social media right companies will need to train their employees on how to use social media so that it will not hurt the organization or the employee. Organizations should have a Social Media training program to show employees how to use social media so that it can benefit the organization. Without a training program, employees will be afraid to use social media for fear of being punished or fired. Companies are afraid to let their employees use social media because of the Social Media disasters they hear about. The training program will show the employees how to use social media to benefit the organization and also how it can benefit the employee. The training program will stop the mistakes that an employee could make if he did not have the training. It will inform them that anything put out on the web is always on the web which could hurt their own reputation as well as that of the organizations. If the comments or pictures are inflammatory or embarrassing towards the company it could hurt the reputation of the company and cost the employee his or her job. However, if the employee uses social media to his employers favor it could be a benefit to the organization as well as the employee’s career.

How To Train Employees to Use Social Media to Benefit the Organization

Education and Training Program
(The image is by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jackson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

To implement a training program a company should use these 5 steps:

  1. Start Early: This means start when the employee gets hired in. If the training is started on the first day the person is hired, then they will understand that social media is important to the company.
  2. Create a Branded Program for Social Media Training: This means create a brand name for your social media training. This creates a community among the graduates of this training program and also creates a status among the company about being a graduate of the training program.
  3. Be Specific and Explicit about What You Want: Help them to start using social media by having the employee send their first tweet or post when they are in the training. Give the employees examples of what is a good social media post or tweet.
  4. Include Game Mechanics to Engage and Reward Employees: Offer rewards or recognition for the people that went through the training and use social media to the benefit of the company.  Make a game of it.  Who entered the most tweets?  Who had the best post?  Who wrote the best blog entry?
  5. Create a Vehicle for Continuous Improvement: Use the experiences of employees that are using social media to improve the company.  Provide a way the employees can share their experiences with social media with others in the company.

Instead of punishing employees that use social media at work a company should offer training to employees on how to use social media to benefit the company.  This will benefit the company by giving the company good exposure to the social media sites.  As a result of the good exposure an increase in business will likely come about.  This will benefit the company as well as the employee.


  • Lim, Jeen-Su; Heinrichs, John (2011-05-30). Handbook of Social Media Marketing: Five Principles of Online and Social Network Interactivity (Kindle Locations 4143-4144). Kindle Edition.
  • Meister, Jeannie (2012-1-31). Social Media Training is Now Mandatory. Social Media Training Is Now Mandatory: Five Ways To Make Sure Your Company Does It Right. Forbes.

(All credit and accolades for this tremendous blog post are for Roy Garbacik who is the author and content creator.)

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