Social Media Policy
This is based on a combination of the good points found in the publicly available policies of various companies, particularly those that have been lauded for their use of Social Media in helping to rapidly build and expand their business.
With Social Media becoming an ever more critical communication and IT tool and with technology changing so quickly it is vital that we embrace Social Media in order to secure a place in the future business landscape. This is particularly important given the economic and societal restrictions that now make physical meetings and events difficult.
The aim of this policy is to help define the optimum ways to use these tools and avoid some of the pitfalls, so that we can enhance both our personal, and the company’s, brand, and are increasingly seen as credible, interesting and trustworthy legal professionals.
This policy applies to all employees, as well as to client facing consultants performing services on our behalf.
Definitions for capitalised terms used in this policy are found at the end of the document.
We want to empower our people to take advantage of new opportunities to connect and communicate to grow both their personal brands and our business’s brand, both online and offline.
We recognise that Social Media tools are increasingly used to:
- promote our business to prospective colleagues, clients, suppliers and other contacts; and/or
- share personal opinions and participate in online dialogues as individuals.
The purpose of this policy is to support such communications provided they adhere to the standards and expectations set out below.
We believe these tools can be used to access leading knowhow by cultivating a worldwide network of thought leaders and industry luminaries, while also helping to both attract and maintain clients. Indeed, many of the firm’s clients are those that have been developed exclusively online (including through the use of Social Media) and we would like to increasingly be seen as a leading exponent of this form or marketing.
Your time at work should be focused on your primary fee earning responsibilities which will take priority, however we encourage the daily use Social Media in a business capacity for a few minutes here and there where possible.
Please bear in mind that this policy is primarily aimed at the use of Social Media for work. Outside the workplace, your rights to privacy and free speech protect online activity conducted on your personal social networks, although you should keep in mind not to communicate anything that may damage your employer, clients and important contacts.
We recognise that LinkedIn is currently the main Social Media tool that you will use in a business capacity. Your LinkedIn account remains your personal property, but you acknowledge that your use of it is largely for work purposes and conducted on behalf of and for the benefit of the firm. While some will prefer to keep their Facebook profile separate from anything deemed work related, for those who are happy to we encourage the use of your own Facebook account to cultivate closer and more personal relationships with business contacts.
Policy Statement and Guidelines
While we trust you will use your common sense in all interactions, we expect you to comply with the following basic broad guidelines when engaging in Social Media:
1) Appropriate use of information technology resources. It goes without saying, but our IT assets and Social Media should not be used to post offensive material, publish defamatory or negative remarks about colleagues or customers, and share Confidential Information.
2) Speaking on behalf of the business. Unless you have been authorised to speak on behalf of the business via Social Media, you shouldn’t claim to offer or express an official novel business position. Of course, you can still openly discuss the business where you are referring to publicly available information, whether on our website or published elsewhere.
3) Ethical conduct. Always respect the dignity and privacy of colleagues, clients, other contacts and competitors. Harassing, intimidating, offensive, abusive, threatening, menacing or hostile content communicated through Social Media is prohibited.
4) Responsiveness. If someone responds to something you’ve said, be responsive and follow-up quickly, preferably within 24 hours, if possible.
5) Transparency of origin. Disclose your identity and affiliation with the firm, your clients, and your professional or personal interests, wherever relevant. When posting a comment to a blog, always use your name. Never create an alias, and never be anonymous.
6) Authenticity. Be yourself and never assume or try to construct an identity that is at odds with your real-world persona. While we should all be careful with what we say and how we say it, equally we don’t want to create a team of corporate drones.
7) Build a following. Promote yourself by finding and sharing information that will be interesting to your friends and followers and useful for them to share. You should connect with all existing clients as well as targeted potential clients.
8) Always give proper credit. Quote and re-tweet others wherever possible, but never attempt to pass off someone else’s language, photography or other information as your own. Be sure to credit your sources when posting a link or information gathered from another source.
9) Accurate information. Never knowingly communicate information that is untrue or deceptive and ensure that communications are based on accurate and relevant data. Anecdotes and opinions shall be identified as such. Spell and grammar check everything. Correct errors promptly. If you find that your blog entry or social post contains an error or mistake, correct it. Since transparency is important, admit your mistake, apologise if necessary, correct it and move on.
10) Give respect. Never be afraid to disagree with someone, but always demonstrate respect for others’ points of view, even when they’re not offering the same in return. Maintain a polite and measured tone, never pick fights, avoid personal attacks and name calling and always take the high road. If you are sharing a negative customer service experience or commenting on a brand or individual, only do so in a constructive way.
11) Protection of confidential information. Always protect Confidential Information as such information represents one of the business’s most important assets. It is never appropriate to share, post, publish, or otherwise disclose Confidential Information unless you are explicitly authorised to do so.
12) Accountability. Be careful what you share, publish, post, or otherwise disclose. You are personally responsible for what you share and should remember that anything you post may be public for an indefinite period of time (even if you attempt to modify or delete). All online communications should reflect our attributes of openness, responsiveness, integrity and positivity. Assume that all your Social Media usage is visible to clients, managers and prospects.
13) Provide context to your argument. Make sure you provide enough support in your postings and opinions to help others understand your reasoning through developing a thoughtful argument, be it positive or negative.
14) Engagement. As far as possible, when consuming content also make sure to leave a comment or ‘like’, or share it to your own profile (with an original observation). Aim to frequently engage with our existing clients, as well as prospective ones.
15) Obey the law. Do not post any information or conduct any online activities that might violate applicable laws or regulations, or any guidelines for our profession.
16) Be concise. Wherever possible be direct, to the point and brief, as long as that allows you to be appropriately polite, articulate and informative.
17) Positive emotions. Wherever possible demonstrate emotions that will ingratiate yourself with others, such as empathy, gratitude, encouragement, interest, satisfaction, admiration, confidence, enthusiasm, eagerness, kindness and cheerfulness.
Discipline and other consequences
Employees who materially breach any areas of this policy will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action or other remedial measures, up to and including termination of employment if warranted under the circumstances and permissible under applicable law.
Revision and revocation
This policy may be revised or revoked by the business at any time, without advance notice or cause.
Confidential Information: important or valuable business information that is not available to the public. It includes trade secrets and other intellectual property that has been developed, licensed or acquired by the business. It can also include information of clients, business partners or others that has been disclosed to the business under obligations of confidentiality.
Social Media: Web based technologies used to broadcast messages and participate in dialogues. Examples of Social Media software applications on the internet include social networking applications such as Facebook, video-sharing applications such as YouTube, micro-blogging applications such as Twitter, collaboration applications such as Wikipedia and blogs such as our own, as well as online forums, all content-sharing websites and other digital channels established for online interaction and connection.