Every company should have a written social media policy in place. But merely having this document in place is not enough. Courts have been striking down social media policies as unenforceable because they are over-broad and unconstitutional. Social media policies should be reviewed by an attorney at least annually to ensure they comply with the most current court rulings. Companies need to ensure that the policy does not violate the 1st Amendment right to free speech for all employees and does not violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRB has committed to enforcing the NLRA as it pertains to social media even in non-union workplaces. This essentially give employees to the right to complain about job conditions relating to employee group activities via their own individual social media postings without fear of retaliation from their employers.
Agreement defining the ownership of the C-Level Executives online persona and contacts
A CEO may assume that they can take their online profiles and contacts with them if they leave a corporation but this may not be the case if the company employees maintain the login and passwords for the social media sites, update the profiles and post comments. Ownership becomes even less clear if an outside firm is hired to post on behalf of the CEO. In this situation the doctrine of "Work for Hire" becomes applicable and absent a written Work for Hire Agreement that outside firm will own the copyright to the social media content it has provided.
Limiting the ability of the public to comment on posts
C-Level executives and their corporations have to make a judgment call on whether or not to allow the general public to have the ability to comment on their posts. Not allowing comments makes the company appear to be less transparent and prevents conversations which help to foster the idea that the executive is truly interested connecting and engaging with the public. On the other hand opening up comments can may invite the trolls to come out to play. Companies will need to have a plan in place on how respond (or not respond) to negative comments before they begin any online interactions via social media.
Abiding by existing agreements
C-Level executives and officers have to be mindful of any pre-existing agreements that they have with their corporations. Even though social media may appear to be an informal way to communicate they should conduct themselves as if everything they write will be preserved forever as a public record. As such they should be careful not to ever post or write anything which will violate these agreements which they most likely have already signed with their corporations:
- Non-competition agreement
- Non-solicitation agreement
- Non-disclosure agreement
- Confidentiality agreement
- Social media policy