Do draconian social media policies really protect your brand?

Oops.  There are restrictive social media policies and there are unworkable and unreasonable social media policies.  This one is one of the latter. 

The Commonwealth bank in Australia has been asked by the Finance Sector Union (FSU) to review their social media policies after they were criticised as draconian.  Employees could be fired for posting negative comments about the bank on Facebook.  Unfortunately for the bank, the FSU took exception to some of the points raised in the policy itself.  Read the entire policy here…)


This part of the policy states that you should inform on any of your work colleagues who have been posting inappropriate content.  Is this an acceptable policy?  Is this ethical for a bank to ask you to tell on your work colleagues in order to protect its brand?  Or has this turned into a PR disaster for the bank, which has a great customer support policy to resolve issues raised through social media channels.  But spying on your colleagues?

In my book I talk about social media guidelines, how to create some good, workable social media guidelines that aren’t too restrictive, are workable and don’t impact your staff who are going about their lives outside of work.  And you don’t even need to create these policies from scratch.  Social media governance has a database of over 150 policies to give you a starting point.  One of the clients I’ve worked with in the city have quite a restrictive set of social media guidelines.  They can’t give referrals on LinkedIn to anyone – whether for a contractor, vendor, or one of their colleagues.  In short, they can’t put their comments next to their company name – even when they have left the company.

From the Finextra blog

States the FSU: "We believe it (the policy) seeks to impose unreasonable restraints upon employees’ use of social media channels and misrepresents employees’ statutory rights and their contractual obligations to their employer."
After initially standing by its policy, the bank has adopted a more conciliatory tone following a stream of negative press comment.
It now says it will meet with the FSU and "will amend the policy, where it is considered reasonable to do so to ensure that all of its staff continue to be treated fairly".

Restricting your employees actions outside of work could be considered a breach of your civil liberties, but it’s not all that unusual.  Government employees, vendors, or anyone who has signed the Official Secrets act in the UK is forbidden from discussions like this at any time – it may be to protect national security.  If you think that this is a breach of your civil liberties, then you don’t need to work there or sign the act. 

Or is reporting on your colleagues social actions, as Business spectator says, trying to take the social out of social media?

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