Major League Baseball has rolled out a social media policy, which was part of the collective bargaining agreement last year. NBC Sport’s Craig Calcaterra published excerpts of the memo sent to all players, which began with the statement that "…we hope that you will not view this policy as a blanket deterrent to engaging in social media."
The memo goes on to encourage players to interact with fans but lists activities that are forbidden, including marking statements that might be construed as official club or league statements without permission, using copyrighted team logos without permission, tweeting confidential or private information about teams or players, and no criticizing umpires or questioning their integrity, among other items.
When Your Employees Hurt Your Brand
More companies would be well advised to follow MLB;s example—that is, carefully crafting a social media policy that will protect a brand from employees' off-the-cuff comments but doesn't trample on their right to protected speech.
Such a balancing act is not necessarily easy, labor and employment attorney Audrey Mross told KDAF-TV. "If employees want to talk about not being paid enough, benefits or a mean manager that is protected speech and that is allowed," she said.
Still, employees and companies should set some guidelines about what is appropriate to discuss. Forbes columnist David Coursey offers an eight-word social media policy could satisfies both sides of the debate: Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t reveal. "People need to know about the rules before they get in hot water for violating them," he writes. "Seems unfair to fire something for a rule they didn’t even know about, but I’m told it has happened."
Companies need to worry about more than just their brand image if they don’t have a social media policy in place. Consumer-based social networking in the enterprise organizations represents a significant security risk that needs to be better understood and carefully managed, a global study by Cisco found. The 2010 study revealed a widespread and growing need for more policies, processes and IT architecture.