No social media policy? That's risky.


A selfie. A coworker’s child. Unmonitored comments. Escalating media coverage.


So goes a chain of events at an Atlanta marketing firm that resulted in the firing of at least one employee, and days of distraction. Media coverage ranged from blogs to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and People magazine. Social media activity was so intense, the frenzy had it’s own hashtag. A Google search showed “about 1,050,000 results.”


Here’s what happened: An employee posted a selfie with a co-worker’s child in the background. The employee was white, the child was black. Although it was posted without comment, the employee’s “friends” stepped in pretty quickly with snarky and racist comments on the post.


Could this all have been avoided?


That’s where your social media policy comes in. (If you don’t have one, you’re taking a big risk.) Here are two ideas that can help reduce the risk of a viral crisis:


Be clear about what’s an acceptable post about work. For example, there should be no posts of a co-worker (including a co-worker’s family members) without that co-worker’s permission.


State the expectations about self-monitoring personal posts. Yes, the staff member at the Atlanta marketing firm made an inappropriate comment in response to numerous posts by others on the photo. That comment came after the photo should have been removed, making a bad situation even worse.


While no social media policy is foolproof, going without one is foolish indeed.


Cindy Miller is CEO of Cindy Miller Communications.

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