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Dos and don'ts of creating a social media policy

Social media is a powerful tool that individuals and businesses alike depend on every day. It connects, informs and entertains millions of users and serves as a primary means of communication for people of all ages. 

Because of how pervasive social media is, it is important for employers across California to understand the importance of having in place a strong social media policy for employees. When creating your social media policy, there are things you should and should not do. 

What you should do

Your social media policy should be specific, purposeful and realistic. State your expectations with regard to both personal and professional use. Detail any rules for attributing posts and comments to the company or an individual, including rules for having a disclaimer in place. Make it clear when and if social media material must be approved.

What you should not do

Your social media policy should not be so restrictive that it jeopardizes an employee's right to free speech. It should not prohibit a person from engaging in protected activities, like discussing workplace conditions. The policy should not be so vague that the terms are ultimately ineffective. Additionally, you should not assume that you don't need a social media policy, as companies can suffer extensive damage in the span of one post or comment.

More tips on drafting a strong social media policy can be found in this Inc.com article. Though, speaking with an attorney can also be a good option to discuss the specific details of your policy and identify any potential legal issues that may affect its validity.

Having a comprehensive and effective social media policy in place can be critical in protecting yourself as an employer from online misconduct, inappropriate content and potentially damaging statements. These policies, when enforceable, can set expectations for appropriate social media use and prevent costly legal disputes.

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