Outdoor fitness, fitness boot camp and military-style fitness providers should be aware of do’s and don’ts regarding the use of social media. Below is an example of some of the considerations.
In this guidance, we explain how staff can put the below principles into practice. Serious or persistent failure to follow this guidance will result in disciplinary action and may put your employment at risk.
- Staff should ensure that their conduct justifies client and public trust in themselves and the Company as a whole.
- When using social media, private communication and personal information may become more widely available, for example, to clients and third parties.
- Staff must follow the Company’s policy on social media.
- Be aware of the limitations of privacy online and regularly review the privacy settings.
- Social media sites cannot guarantee confidentiality, even when privacy settings are in place.
- Staff must not share client identifiable information, and must not disclose individual clients or any private information using publicly accessible social media.
- Whilst individual information may not breach client confidentiality on its own, the sum of published information online could enable a client to be identified.
- If staff are using publicly accessible social media to represent their professional view, they must identify themselves by name.
- Develop a Company social media policy that applies to all staff employed by the Company.
- Social media describes web-based applications that allow people to create and exchange content. In this guidance we use the term to include blogs and microblogs (such as Twitter), internet forums, content communities (such as YouTube and Flickr), and social networking sites (such as Facebook and LinkedIn).
- The standards expected of staff do not change because they are communicating through social media rather than face to face or through other traditional media. However, using social media creates new circumstances in which the established principles apply.
- Using social media has blurred the boundaries between public and private life, and online information can be easily accessed by others. You should be aware of the limitations of privacy online and you should regularly review the privacy settings for each of your social media profiles. This is for the following reasons:
- Social media sites cannot guarantee confidentiality whatever privacy settings are in place.
- Clients, the Company and/or any other organisation that you have a relationship with, may be able to access your personal information.
- Information about your location may be embedded within photographs and other content and available for others to see.
- Once information is published online it can be difficult to remove as other users may distribute it further or comment on it.
The Benefits and Risks of using Social Media
Staffs’ use of social media can benefit customer service by:
- Engaging people in Company, fitness and other related discussions;
- Establishing client and professional networks; and
- Facilitating clients’ access to information about the Company’s products and services.
- Using social media creates risks, particularly where social and professional boundaries become unclear.
- If a client contacts you about their fitness or other professional matters through your private profile, you should indicate that you cannot mix social and professional relationships and, where appropriate, direct them to your professional profile.
Respect for colleagues
- Staff must treat colleagues fairly and with respect. This covers all situations and all forms of interaction and communication. You must not bully, harass or make gratuitous, unsubstantiated or unsustainable comments about individuals online.
- When interacting with or commenting about individuals or organisations online, you should be aware that postings online are subject to the same laws of copyright and defamation as written or verbal communications, whether they are made in a personal or professional capacity.
- If you identify yourself as a staff member in publicly accessible social media, you should also identify yourself by name. Any material written by authors who represent themselves as staff members is likely to be taken on trust and may reasonably be taken to represent the views of the Company more widely.
- You should also be aware that content uploaded anonymously can, in many cases, be traced back to its point of origin.
Conflicts of interest
When you post material online, you should be open about any conflict of interest and declare any financial or commercial interests in organisations or companies.
What We Need You To Do…
- Set-up an instructor/employee profile on [e.g. Facebook]. This is not optional and will act as your ‘professional’ profile separate from your ‘personal’ profile.
- Remove any clients that are friends from your ‘personal’ profile. The reason we are asking you to do this is because we need to keep ‘professional’ and ‘personal’ profiles separate in order to protect the brand and company image.
- We have set up a fan page for each park/venue/location. You will need to find your relevant page and ‘like’ this page. We will then make you an admin of this page enabling you to post messages, add events, create discussions and respond to clients’ comments/questions. PLEASE NOTE: As an admin user, any posts made by you will appear as the ‘official’ post of that location.
- You will need to monitor your fan page – post comments on the wall, answer client’s questions, add social events, start and respond to discussion topics.
- Remember this is a key way for you to communicate with your clients so the more interesting and frequent the content the better. This will keep the page current and encourage clients to interact with you and others.
- Do remember that you are representing the Company on these pages and as an administrator, any posts or comments will appear as the ‘official’ post of that location. Content needs to be relevant to the Company, so think before you post! If you are not sure then do not post and contact your line-manager for help/advice.
- Do monitor your fan page on a daily basis and respond to any queries posted by clients. These pages are a great way to build your social interaction with clients.
- Do encourage clients to join the fan page; this could be simply done by mentioning before/after a session.
- Do create events, post links and discussions because this will ensure the content is fresh and will encourage clients to interact on a regular basis.
- Do use the fan pages to answer any queries you may have had at the park/venue/location.
- Do be fun and friendly so that clients can feel they can ask questions through the page.
- Do remove any posts that are offensive, irrelevant to the Company or advertising products or services that compete with the Company.
- Do keep your session times up-to-date on the information section of the fan page.
- Do remember to check your spelling before you post on the wall or within your status.
- Don’t swear on this page or on your ‘professional’ profile – keep it clean! You are representing the Company and need to be professional at all times and take pride in the information you provide to clients. Remember these fan pages are feeding directly into the Company website so external users not on Facebook will also see these.
- Don’t post messages that are considered likely to provoke, attack or offend others.
- Don’t post messages that are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable.
- Don’t post messages that single out any specific clients on the page.
- Don’t post links to irrelevant images, other companies or YouTube videos.
- Don’t give any clients ‘admin’ rights to the page.
- Don’t alter any of the generic information that has already been added to your fan page.
Please remember, that if you choose to use an image of yourself in Company uniform on your ‘personal’ profile, you are still representing the company and therefore the points above apply.