Is social media good or bad for your business?

By: Matthew Forrest

Date: 26 October 2011

Matt Forrest of the Sage UK Small Business Team

Social networking is changing the face of business. Experts continue to encourage all businesses to embrace the possibilities offered by sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

But, frequently we read stories about employees getting sacked for posting libelous or malicious content, often about about their employers. A recent survey suggested almost half of UK businesses have banned social media sites during office hours.

Are such sites a help or hindrance? The answer, rather predictably, is both.

It’s true that businesses have never had the opportunity to reach so many potential customers and employees as they have now, thanks to online social networking. But left unchecked, some employees could post secret or private information or content that could seriously damage a business’s reputation.

Here at Sage we have policies intended to protect our people and our reputation. We want to be where customers are having conversations – which is why we embrace social media.

So, what should your social media policy encourage? Those helpful people at our HR advice service,  Sage People Advice, suggests you should encourage employees to:

  • Only post meaningful and respectful comments.
  • Use common sense and courtesy. It’s best to ask permission to publish or report on conversations that are meant to be private or internal.
  • Keep responses appropriate and polite – especially when disagreeing with others.
  • Never comment on anything related to legal matters the company may be involved in.
  • Remind your employees your policy is still relevant when they are posting about work outside their working hours.

Matt Forrest is part of the Small Business Team at Sage UK, Start Up Donut sponsor and provider of payroll and online accounting software to small businesses.