Social media definitely has a global impact on our lives. You may like it and use it for your business as part of your marketing plan. Companies can develop pages for various social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and more. On the other hand, you may choose not to participate in these mediums but information about your property management company, your personnel, or even private information on your clients could still pop up online. Whether you are using it proactively or not, it is important to develop a social media policy for your company.
Why should you bother to develop a policy for your property management company?
Social media can have a positive impact on your property management business but it can produce negative and dangerous results as well. Safety and security issues have developed because of this venue. Bad press for your company can definitely impede business growth. There is a mixed bag of pros and cons on social media exposure.
Often problems develop with personnel simply because there are no guidelines available to them. Developing a social media policy is the first step you need to take, but it is not effective unless you add an additional one – training for your property management company personnel.
Beginning in 2011, The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) started making decisions on social media cases concerning employers’ actions with employees. They released a report on several cases involving employees’ use of social media. They also issued the first decision of its kind — findings that terminating employees for using social media to express concerns about the workplace violated the National Labor Relations Act; their report offers guidance to business owners on developing social media policies.
You may already have a social media policy for your property management company, or you may need to develop one. Either way, below are some tips on what to include or what to avoid in a written policy.
- Research information online regarding decisions made by the National Labor Relations Board. This can help to avoid legal problems concerning personnel and social media. There is also a wealth of material available online for developing a written social media policy. Just remember it has to be specific to your company.
- If you have not developed a well-defined confidentiality policy for the company, do this immediately. Be explicit on the information that personnel cannot divulge. If you already have a confidentiality policy, review it carefully.
- Have everyone in the company sign a clear and concise confidentiality agreement. Make this an immediate requirement when taking on new personnel.
- When developing a policy, write it as clearly as possible while covering the content needed.
- Define what social media the company is using or planning to use and how it relates to the company website, blogs, etc.
- Define what personnel positions are authorized to set up the designated social media accounts.
- Make it clear what personnel positions are authorized to submit information to the company’s social media.
- Require that all personnel understand and respect copyrights and fair use.
- Include what language is not acceptable in the company social media; emphasize what to avoid – name-calling, derogatory comments, inappropriate slang, etc.
- Be sure that you do not violate the rights of personnel to participate in social media outside of company participation. This has definitely been addressed by the National Labor Relations Board. They found employers in violation of employees’ personal rights.
- If in doubt, consult a professional versed in personnel/employee issues.
After you put together your written social media policy, sit down and review it with your all of your personnel (property managers, bookkeepers, support staff, etc.)
- Review how the confidentiality agreement relates to social media.
- Cover what image and policies you want to convey online regarding the company. Emphasize professionalism in the Real Estate/Property Management industry and how a good image benefits everyone.
- Get everyone involved in the social media policy discussion.
- Discuss what images and wording to avoid – get input from your team. They may have good insights on the impact of social media on the company image and give great feedback to the written social media policy.
- Encourage discussion on their personal social media use. Avoid taking a position that they are “not allowed” to discuss their position or employment on their own personal media; the NLRB definitely found this an unacceptable practice for employers.
This is a new area for all companies today. As time goes on, you will need to revise and update your social media policy as events dictate. Because of the Internet and social media sites, you cannot control what is being said 100% of the time about you and/or your property management business. Instead, be proactive in developing an effective written social media policy and a positive company image.
Jean Storms, MPM® is the founder/author of LandlordSource and has been a NARPM® member since January 1993.
Disclaimer: LandlordSource does not represent the article content in this website as legal advice. It is shared information only and up to the reader to use this information responsibly, seeking legal advice as necessary to their business.