Below is an example social media policy and guidelines that outdoor fitness, fitness boot camp and/or military-style fitness providers may find useful.
As information and communications technology continues to move forward, making considerable advances, so too do the tools that enable us to communicate with, and unite people.
‘Social Media’ is the term used for the current wave of online tools, websites and interactive media (Appendix A) that enable users to interact with each other in various ways, through sharing information, opinions, knowledge and interests. Social media involves building online communities or networks, which encourage participation, dialogue and involvement.
Social media is at the forefront of modern communications; its capabilities are already being exploited by central and local government and various public and private organisations as a method of engagement with customers, stakeholders and partners. [insert company name], ‘the Company’, can benefit from taking a similar, innovative approach to communicating with people, which can lead to greater involvement with customers, increased efficiency and improvement of our reputation. It could also enable us to engage with harder-to-reach groups like those who are physically inactive. Rather than waiting for individuals or groups to approach the Company, social media offers the opportunity of being able to connect to the local, and wider, community, listen to what people are saying and engage with them on an equal footing, focusing on two-way communications rather than simply delivering messages. It may also empower our clients to speak up about their needs and influence decision making, in turn building trust and stronger bonds.
For social media to work effectively it is vital that it is used as part of the overall communications mix: up to date information about the Company, its services and engagement [business] activities must be posted on the corporate website and social media communications should signpost people to appropriate web pages where possible.
There are far too many social media sites to list but some of the most popular examples include Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube. The format and levels of interaction vary greatly from one to another. However, whenever staff use such sites they should still familiarise themselves with the guidance that is set out in this policy.
The Company needs to set clear guidelines for using social media sites to ensure they are used effectively as part of a wider communications mix and that their use does not expose the Company to security risks or reputational damage. Therefore, we need a comprehensive policy to effectively manage and regulate the corporate use of social media.
1.1 Purpose and Aim of Policy
Social media offers great potential for building relationships and improving the products and services that we provide. This policy will clearly set out how social media can be managed effectively and how any risks or pitfalls can be avoided or mitigated.
As with any online activity there are often risks associated, the following types of risk have been identified with social media use:
- Virus or other malware (malicious software) infection from infected sites;
- Disclosure of confidential information;
- Damage to the reputation of The Company;
- Social engineering attacks (this is the act of manipulating people into disclosing confidential material or carrying out certain actions. Social engineering is often conducted by individuals fraudulently claiming to be a business or client);
- Civil or Criminal action relating to breaches of legislation; and/or
- Breach of Safeguarding.
In light of these risks, we need to regulate the use of social media sites and ensure that such use does not damage the Company, its employees, partners and our customers. Therefore, the aim of this policy is to ensure:
- Engagement with individuals and partners and successful promotion of Company-based products and services through the use of social media.
- A consistent and corporate approach is adopted and maintained in the use of social media.
- That Company information remains secure and is not compromised through the use of social media.
- That user’s operate within existing policies, guidelines and relevant legislation.
- That the Company’s reputation is not damaged or adversely affected.
This policy applies to all employees (including managers and directors) and other workers (including casual and agency workers, secondees and contractors) who use the Company’s infrastructure and are granted access on the above grounds.
This policy shall not apply to users that are not included in the paragraph above. Such users will need to comply with their own policies on social media use.
Not everyone will be able to access social media sites and a business case is required for departments and staff wishing to have access to such websites and online tools.
2.0 Policy Statement
It is acknowledged that there is significant potential for using social media and that this can bring great advantages. The responsible, corporate use of social media is actively encouraged.
This policy provides a structured approach to using social media and will ensure that it is effective, lawful and does not compromise Company information or computer systems/networks.
Staff must ensure that they use social media sensibly and responsibly, in line with corporate policy. They must ensure that their use will not adversely affect the Company or its business, nor be damaging to the Company’s reputation and credibility or otherwise violate any Company policies.
2.1 General Principles
We believe in these five simple, broad-based principles regarding the use of social media:
- Treat others as you would like to be treated;
- Add value to your consumers, your industry and your business;
- Be respectful, professional and courteous;
- Provide insight, expertise and relevant conversation; and
- Communicate ethically and morally in support of your professional and business goals.
3.0 Policy Details
Social media will be made available for corporate, business use only, subject to corporate approval for using such communications.
3.0.1 Responsibilities of Managers, Employees and Other Workers
The following guidelines will apply to online participation and set out the standards of behaviour expected as a representative of the Company.
- Be aware of and recognise your responsibilities identified in the Social Media Policy.
- Remember that you are personally responsible for the content you publish on any form of social media.
- Never give out personal details such as home address and telephone numbers. Ensure that you handle any personal or sensitive information in line with the Company’s Data Protection Policies.
Be aware of Safeguarding issues, as Social Media sites can be misused by offenders. Safeguarding is everyone’s business – if you have any concerns about other site users, you have a responsibility to report these to the safeguarding lead and/or your line-manager.
- Respect copyright, fair-use and financial disclosure laws.
- Social media sites are in the public domain and it is important to ensure that you are confident about the nature of the information you publish. Permission must be sought if you wish to publish or report on meetings or discussions that are meant to be private or internal to the Company. Do not cite or reference customers, partners or suppliers without their approval.
- Do not use insulting, offensive or racist language or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the workplace. Show consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory – such as politics or religion.
- Do not download any software, shareware or freeware from any social media site, unless this has been approved and authorised by your line-manager and/or IT representative.
Failure to comply with the guidelines could result in disciplinary action being taken.
Further guidelines for setting up twitter or Facebook profiles, managing content and general best practice have been produced by the [insert job title] and should be read with the policy.
3.0.2 Responsibilities of Managers
Managers (and Directors) using social media must be aware of and comply with the Company’s Code of Conduct.
Managers must identify themselves as being part of The Company, e.g. Venue Manager or Director of Operations. Managers will be permitted to use only Company email addresses and not personal ones.
If a Manager receives any threats, abuse or harassment from members of the public through their use of social media then they must report such incidents using the Company’s Incident Reporting procedures.
3.0.3 Use by Employees and Other Workers
Employees and Other Workers should ensure that they are familiar with the guidance that is set out within this policy and that their use of social media does not put the Company’s information and security systems at risk, or be damaging to the reputation of the Company. Employees should also be familiar with the Company’s Code of Conduct, which outlines key information and guidance on best practice issues such as information handling and security.
3.0.4 Investigatory Use
It is recognised that social media can be used for investigatory purposes, such as identifying fraud, illegal events etc. It is important that employees and other workers who use social media for this purpose comply with relevant guidance and legislation.
3.0.5 Personal Use
This policy relates to the business use of social media. If employees (that have been granted access) are found to be accessing social media sites for personal reasons, then appropriate action will be taken.
Employees should be aware that the Company’s Code of Conduct covers the issues of fidelity and information disclosure, and should bear this in mind when using social media (in a personal capacity) outside of work. Employees should be aware that any reports of inappropriate activity, linking them to the Company, will be investigated.
With the rise in identity theft and fraud, employees may wish to consider the amount of personal information that they display on their personal profile.
3.1 Relationships with other Corporate Strategies and Policies.
This Social Media Policy is a sub-policy to the Company’s Information Security Policy and should be read in conjunction with that policy.
This policy also links to (and should be read in conjunction with) the following policies:
- Company Code of Conduct;
- Internet Policy;
- Email Policy;
- Computer Access Policy;
- Data Protection Policy;
- Communications Strategy;
- Software Control Policy; and
- Safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults Policy.
3.2 Management and Supervision
3.2.1 Business Case
All members of staff need to ensure that any business cases for using social media sites that are put forward to the Company have been agreed and approved by their Head of Department/Line-manager.
A Business Case template is available on the intranet.
3.2.2 Management Responsibilities
Heads of Department and Line-managers have a duty to ensure that employees who have access to social media sites comply with the Social Media Policy and relevant guidance and do not abuse their access rights or misuse such sites. Any breaches of this policy by employees should be dealt with immediately and in accordance with Company procedures.
This policy will be implemented with immediate effect through appropriate communication streams. The policy will also be made available on the intranet.
The policy development engaged the following groups and representatives:
- Information Services;
- Legal Services;
- Computer Audit;
- Human Resources; and
- Senior Management Team (SMT).
The Managing Director is the designated Company owner of the Social Media Policy and is responsible for the maintenance and review of the policy.
6.0 Monitoring arrangements
The IT representative will keep a log of all access details and will monitor the use of social media to ensure compliancy with Company policies and guidelines and in support of security and criminal investigations.
6.1 Reporting Arrangements
Any potential misuse of social media identified by the IT representative or others will be reported, as appropriate, to:
- The Managing Director;
- Line-manager; and/or
- Another appropriate body.
6.2 Performance Measures
Statistical information of user activity, provided by the IT representative, will be reviewed to ensure that performance remains at a high standard.
Registered users will be surveyed on an annual basis and will provide feedback to Managing Director about the effectiveness of using social media.
7.0 Breaches of Policy
Any breaches may lead to access being withdrawn and disciplinary action being taken. Serious breaches of this policy by Company employees will amount to gross misconduct and may result in dismissal.
Other violations of this policy, such as breaching the Data Protection Act, could lead to fines being issued and possible criminal or civil action being taken against the Company or the individual(s) involved.
8.0 Information and Training
For more information please contact:
The Managing Director/Training Manager/Training Lead
Address Line 1
Address Line 2
9.0 Sustainability Implications
The potential environmental and sustainability implications have been considered by this policy. It is recognised that the regulated use of social media has the potential to make a positive impact on communities and social wellbeing. By establishing greater links with members of the public, community groups, partners and stakeholders, through social networking, there is scope for more open communication and the increased ability to share information and to improve service delivery.
This form of communication can be engaged to tackle a wide variety of issues and to influence change. As a cost-effective form of resource, social media is likely to become a more popular choice when it comes to developing relationships, sharing information and communicating council messages.
10.0 Legal Requirements
The following legal documents have a bearing, or impinge on the rationale of this policy:
- Data Protection Act 1998
- Human Rights Act 1998
11.0 Evaluation and Review Date
This Policy will be reviewed by the Managing Director in MMM YYYY.
Categories of Social Media
- Social networking: websites where you create a personal profile then chat, discuss, and share information with others such as friends and family. Organisations can also create profiles and promote campaigns and events. Example: www.facebook.com
- Wikis: these sites enable users to create, edit and share information about a subject or topic. Example: www.wikipedia.org
- Video sharing: where you upload and share your personal videos with the rest of the web community. Example: www.youtube.co.uk
- Photo sharing: you can upload pictures and images to a personal account which can be viewed by web users the world over. Example: www.flickr.com
- News aggregation: news aggregators provide a list of the latest news stories published by users from a range of different websites. Example: www.digg.com
- Social bookmarking: social bookmarking sites enable users to publicly bookmark web pages they find valuable in order to share them with other internet users. Example: del.icio.us http://delicious.com/
- Consumer choice: many sites give you an opportunity to post your views on a product or service and to check what others think before you buy. Example: www.tripadvisor.org
- Blogs: personal websites where you can post whatever you want to talk about or share and in turn invite others to comment on what you are saying
- Micro-blogs: an opportunity to upload short posts about what you are doing or thinking. Example: www.twitter.com