Occasionally I get requests asking for help or advice on social media policies for unions. Most of these are specifically how unions can manage social media use by paid officials of the union to reduce risk. With many unions in constant industrial conflict environments with hostile employers or political groups eager to exploit any lapses of organisers on Facebook or Twitter, it’s easy to see why many unions leaders are wary of social media and want to reduce their exposure.
I normally recommend the Coca-cola company social media principles as best practice. These balance the responsibilities of the company to allow staff to express themselves online, while also ensuring that staff have clear expectations about how they should behave as Coke employees.
I recently stumbled across a short social media policy, which I believe would be a very useful for unions looking for a simple policy, or the basis of one.
In recognition of the growing use and impact of social media, [union] has introduced a Social Media Policy.
The Policy applies to the use of social media internally within [union] using [union's] information technology, and outside [union] in employees’ personal time and using personal technology, where that use may impact on the operations and reputation of [union].
The key principles of the Policy are as follows.
- Employees are encouraged to use social media to promote the flow of useful information and support our [union's] operations.
- Social media posts should not violate the [union's] values, the code of conduct, [union's] policies or the law.
- Posts must not be (or potentially be seen as) offensive, harassing, derogatory, demeaning, off-colour, sexual in content, creating an unsafe working environment or otherwise inappropriate in a business environment.
- Employees must not make official comments on social media platforms on behalf of [union] without written approval from [the Secretary/relevant official].
The Policy is aimed at minimising risk to [the union], our employees and members, and should be seen as a reference guide to responsible participation in social media platforms.
Of course, if you want to see a very broad range of social media policies for all kinds of organisations, check out the Social Media Governance database of policies.