How to Manage the Use of Social Media in the Workplace

free social media policy template for employees

Social media has significantly changed the way people communicate at home and at work. But should you be encouraging social media use at work, or is workplace use of social media nothing more than an unwanted distraction?

In this article I will outline the risks and benefits of social media in the workplace, the best practices for managing social media use at work, and provide you with a social media policy example that you can use in your organization. 

Social media policy template mockup

Get Your FREE Workplace Social Media Policy Template

  • Productivity and security tips for using social media in the workplace
  • Guidelines for representing the organization on social media channels
  • Acceptable vs unacceptable use of social media at work

Get started today—Download the FREE template and customize it to fit the needs of your organization.

Should Employees Be Allowed To Access Social Media Platforms While Working?

Grid of social media company logos

When it comes to managing social media in the workplace many employers are conflicted between embracing social media as an employee engagement tool and blocking social media in the workplace in search of increased productivity and security.

A Pew Research Center survey found that while social media platforms can be tools for connection with colleagues and outside experts, they can also serve as distractions while on the job. 

According to their research, here’s why employees use social media in the workplace:

  • 34% to take a mental break from their job
  • 27% to connect with friends and family while at work
  • 24% to make or support professional connections
  • 20% to get information that helps them solve problems at work
  • 17% to build or strengthen personal relationships with coworkers
  • 17% to learn about someone they work with
  • 12% to ask work-related questions of people outside their organization
  • 12% to ask such questions of people inside their organization

This section will outline the pros and cons of social media in the workplace so you can decide whether you want to block social media in the workplace or consider leveraging social media for its business benefits.

The Risks Of Social Media in the Workplace

When your organization is planning how to manage the use of social media in the workplace it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks to its brand, sensitive data, employee wellbeing, and productivity.

According to a 2013 survey from Grant Thorton, 71% of executives said their company was concerned about possible risks posed by social media and 13% were very concerned. These concerns ranged from negative comments about the company, exposure of personal information and intellectual property, and fraud.

This section will outline the key risks of social media at work so you can plan around them.

Data Security Risks

data leakage prevention - how to protect your data

As with any website where files and information can be freely shared, social media blogs and platforms pose a data security risk. 

Allowing employees to freely browse internet forums without proper data protection measures in place increases the risks that social media plays a part in your next data breach. 

If you will allow the use of social media platforms in the workplace, you must provide training materials such as information security policies and social media in the workplace policies; such policies are essential for the optimal use of social media at work.

Learn More: What is Data Leakage? How Can I Prevent Data Leaks?

Employee Engagement and Productivity

Productivity in the workplace - how your employees waste time

Employers typically worry that social media is a productivity killer, but social media doesn’t reduce productivity nearly as much as it kills employee retention. Employees using social media for work are more often exposed to other job opportunities and have higher profiles among recruiters, making them potential targets for poaching. – Lorenzo Bizzi, Harvard Business Review

As noted in the Pew survey, 34% of employees browse social networks while on the clock to take a mental break from their job. While there are benefits to taking short breaks (more on that later), at the same time social networking sites can be a major workplace distraction.

In fact, a Salary.com survey found that 64% of employees engage in cyberloafing—the act of browsing non-work websites during work hours—every day at work. 

Out of those employees, 39% said they wasted up to an hour on the Internet at work, 29% wasted 1-2 hours, and 32% wasted more than 2 hours per day.

Depending on how disengaged the employee is they could be seeking job opportunities with new organizations while on the clock or simply doing the bare minimum and spending most of their time browsing the web.

While it’s natural to want to trust your employees to manage their time effectively, it’s important to have an employee internet management system in place to address anyone that’s dedicating too much time to their social media presence at work.

Company Reputation

A group of employees reviewing reports

While social networks are a great tool to share ideas and engage with fellow social media users, mismanaged social media use can reflect poorly on the company. 

From an internal optics perspective, new employees seeing their co workers engage in excessive personal social media use can give the impression that surfing the web rather than working is an accepted practice. 

From a public relations perspective any defamatory comments made by an employee can negatively reflect on the organization, especially if employer branding is directly tied to their account.

The Benefits Of Social Media For Employees & Employers

Now that you’re aware of the potential negative impact that social media platforms can have in the workplace, it’s time to cover the benefits of social media at work.

While the simplest approach would be to simply block social media for everyone that’s not in your marketing department, at the same time there are legitimate reasons why you might want to allow your employees to use social media.

This section will outline the benefits of social media for your organization so you can decide how you’d like to leverage social media at work to improve working relationships, encourage employee advocacy, and even reduce employee turnover.

Employee Morale & Workplace Relationships

A woman working from home on her laptop. She is sitting on the floor and smiling with her laptop in her lap.

Companies that trust their employees to self-manage their own productivity make them feel valued. While there still need to be controls in place to limit excessive use, providing employees with the autonomy to use their desired social media tool responsibly can improve morale and contribute to a positive company culture.

In terms of workplace relationships, research from Harvard Business Review has shown that 82% of workers agree that social media can improve work relationships and 60% believe social media use supports decision-making processes. 

Responsible social media use allows coworkers to stay connected with one another in a more informal fashion than what is offered by traditional meetings and team chat platforms. There’s also ample opportunity for informal employee advocacy among colleagues, which helps improve the quality of life for employees.

To make the most of these employee engagement benefits while reducing distractions some companies will go so far as to implement internal social media platforms such as Workplace from Meta (Formerly Workplace from Facebook). 

These platforms allow employees to stay connected with one another while providing companies with the administrative tools they need to keep their employees’ online profiles safe for work. They also provide a central hub for employee recognition, ideas sharing, and employee advocacy.

Communication & Knowledge Sharing

A female teacher points to a chalkboard

Social media provides a central hub for sharing information. With internal social media tools, employees can improve their organizational learning and share knowledge with their coworkers. This provides ample opportunities for employees to share new ideas and get feedback without sharing this information with the general public.

Professional Networking

man and woman in business attire shaking hands

Social media platforms are essential tools for external communications with professionals that are outside of the employer brand. Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn give employees an opportunity to connect with other professionals in related fields, giving them access to new ideas and critical connections.

Naturally, this level of connectedness is a double-edged sword. While time spent building professional networks can benefit the company these tools can also be used to search for new career opportunities while on the clock. 

Tips for Managing the Use of Social Media Sites at Work

Write a Use of Social Media in the Workplace Policy

Social media policy template mockup

Get Your FREE Workplace Social Media Policy Template

  • Productivity and security tips for using social media in the workplace
  • Guidelines for representing the organization on social media channels
  • Acceptable vs unacceptable use of social media at work

Get started today—Download the FREE template and customize it to fit the needs of your organization.

Social media policies for employees are absolutely essential for any business that wants to encourage social media use in the workplace. Without these policies employees may inadvertently harm employer branding with poor messaging or inflammatory comments. 


While you cannot control how an employee chooses to represent themselves on their personal accounts, providing professional guidance will help your employees understand the impact that social media can have on the company.

At its core, a simple social media in the workplace policy will cover:

  • Principles that apply to professional use of social media on behalf of the company as well as guidelines for appropriate personal social media use
  • Whether the company will exert its right to review and monitor the online activities of employees
  • Guidelines for how to respond to customers and the general public over social media
  • Examples of appropriate and inappropriate social media use
  • Clarifications on intellectual property rights as it related to corporate social media profiles
  • Data security and privacy requirements
  • Contacts for legal, PR/media, and other core channels

Simply writing a social media in the workplace policy isn’t enough, though; you need to clearly communicate it to the company’s employees. 

According to the 2021 Employee Social Media Risk Report from TribalImpact 58% of employees who shared information about their company on social media every week, don’t understand, haven’t read, or aren’t aware of a social media in the workplace policy.

Furthermore, of the employees who have said something negative about their employer on social media, 49% either haven’t read their employer’s social media in the workplace policy, don’t understand it, or aren’t aware one event exists.

Encourage Employees To Use Social Networking Sites Responsibly

Man giving a presentation

Whether employees will be permitted to use social networks for personal reasons or strictly for work related purposes, it’s important that they are aware of the expectations your company has. 

Be certain to overview how social networking relates to your existing policies, what level of personal use is permitted, and what corrective actions may need to be taken if excessive use becomes an issue.

Monitor Or Block Access To Social Media In The Workplace

Need to restrict internet access in your network? In this tutorial you will learn how to block websites using a free trial of BrowseControl, CurrentWare’s web content filtering software.

With BrowseControl you can…

Block websites based on URL, category, domain, or IP address

Schedule unique internet restrictions throughout the day 

Assign custom policies for each group of computers or users,

and enforce internet usage policies, even when devices leave the network

There are 3 ways to block employee internet access with BrowseControl

1) Block access to specific websites with the Block List

2) Restrict internet access to only certain sites with the Allow List 

3) Using the Category Filtering feature you can block access to content categories such as Porn, Virus Infected, or Social Media 

For complete control over internet and application use in your network, you can combine BrowseControl with BrowseReporter, CurrentWare’s internet monitoring software.

All right, let’s get started.

To begin, sign up for a free trial of BrowseControl at CurrentWare.com/Download. After filling out the form you will be provided with the files you need to get started with BrowseControl.

To install BrowseControl, run CurrentWare.exe on the administrator’s computer and follow the installation instructions; this will install the CurrentWare Console and Server. 

After that, deploy the CurrentWare Client Setup file (cwClientSetup.exe) on all of the computers you would like to control. 

From there you can import your Active Directory organizational units or manually create your desired policy groups.

For full installation instructions, please visit our knowledge base at CurrentWare.com/Support. 

Now that you have BrowseControl installed, I’ll show you how to block specific websites based on their URL, domain, or IP address with the URL Filter.

This feature can be used to block your employees from accessing distracting websites like Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram.

First, decide whether you want to control internet access based on users or computers and select the desired mode.

Next, click on the URL Filter then select “Blocked List”

From the drop-down menu, select the group of computers or users that you want to restrict

Enter the URL, domain, or IP address of the websites you want to block to the master URL list, then press the Enter key or click “Add”. 

BrowseControl will apply a wildcard to the URL, ensuring that any paths within the domain will be blocked as well.

In the master URL list, select the websites you want to block for the chosen group, then click “Add to Blocked List”.

If you would like to add the selected websites to the block list of multiple groups, you can press the drop-down arrow and select “add to multiple groups”, select the desired groups, then click “add to blocked list”

If you have a large number of websites you would like to block, you can also use the import feature to import an existing list.

Finally, click “Apply to Clients”.

That’s it! You have now blocked your employees, students, or patrons from accessing those specific websites. 

Next, I’ll show you how to restrict internet access to only certain sites.

This feature is ideal if you want to prevent your employees, students, or patrons from accessing websites that are not explicitly allowed by your organization.

The process is identical to how you would block a website, except this time you will set the internet to “off” and add the websites you would like to allow to the Allow List.

With this method, your users will only be able to access the exact websites that have been approved by your company.

Here are the full instructions.

First, decide whether you want to control internet access based on users or computers and select the desired mode.

Next, click on the URL Filter, then ensure that “Allowed List” is selected

From the drop-down menu, select the group of computers or users that you want to restrict

Next, set the internet to “Off”. This will ensure that only the websites that are added to the allowed list can be accessed.

Enter the URL, domain, or IP address of the website you want to allow to the master URL list, then press the Enter key or click “Add”. BrowseControl will apply a wildcard to the URL, ensuring that any paths within the domain will be allowed as well.

In the master URL list, select the websites you want to allow for the chosen group, then click “Add to Allowed List”

If you would like to add the selected websites to the Allowed list of multiple groups, you can press the drop-down arrow and select “Add to Multiple Groups”, select the desired groups, then click “Add to Allowed list”

If you have a large number of websites you would like to allow, you can also use the import feature to import an existing list.

Finally, click “Apply to Clients”.

Next, I’ll show you how to block websites based on content categories such as Porn, Virus Infected, and Social Media 

With BrowseControl’s category filtering feature you can block billions of websites across over 100 URL categories. More than 10,000 new domains are added each day, making it simple to restrict internet access even as new sites emerge. 

Here’s how:

First, decide whether you want to control internet access based on users or computers, then select the desired mode.

Next, click on “Category Filtering”

From the drop-down menu, select the group of computers or users that you want to restrict

Select the web content categories you would like to block, then click “Add to Blocked List”

Finally, click “Apply to Clients”.

That’s it! 

The Allow List can also be used in tandem with the Category Filtering feature to allow websites that would otherwise be blocked based on their content category. 

For example, you could use the Category Filtering feature to block Social Media while still allowing access to LinkedIn.

Now that you’ve seen the 3 key ways you can block a website with BrowseControl, I’d like to show you how to restrict internet access at certain times.

With BrowseControl’s Internet Scheduler you can schedule custom block or allow lists throughout the day. 

This feature will bring some flexibility to your internet restriction policies; in this example, we will allow our employees to browse the internet during lunchtime.

Here’s how to use the internet scheduler

First, decide whether you want to control internet access based on users or computers and select the desired mode.

Next, click on “internet scheduler”

From the drop-down menu, select the group of computers or users that you want to restrict

Next, click “New Schedule”

Set the start and end time of the schedule. Then, select the schedule type.

Internet On will allow internet access to all websites that are not on the URL Block List

Custom allowed list will only allow access to specific websites.

Custom blocked list will block access to a specific list of websites and allow access to the rest of the internet.

Custom Category blocked list will block specific categories and allow access to the rest of the internet.

Next, set your desired schedule frequency.

Daily will enable the schedule every day during the specified time period.

Weekly will enable the schedule only on specific days of the week.

Monthly will enable the schedule only on specific months.

Next, click “Add Schedule”.

If you selected one of the custom block or allow list options, you can click the link provided under the “schedule type” column to set the websites or categories that you would like on the list.

And finally, click “Enable Scheduler” if it is not already enabled

That’s it for today. If you’re ready to start blocking websites you can get a free trial of BrowseControl at CurrentWare.com/Download. 

If you have any questions during your evaluation our support team is available to help you over a phone call, live chat, or email.

See you next time!

As noted in the Pew Research Centre survey, 34% of employees browse social networks while on the clock to take a mental break from their job.

The idea of non-work web browsing having a positive effect on productivity is not unfounded, either. According to a publication from Brent Coker of the University of Melbourne short mental breaks can have a positive impact on employee productivity; but only so long as non-work internet browsing does not consume more than 12% of an employee’s work time.

Which begs the question: Knowing that there’s this 12% sweet spot, how can companies get all the benefits of social media at work without negatively affecting employee productivity?

With workplace internet filtering and monitoring software you can avoid falling victim to the well known examples of employee internet abuse such as cyberbullying, cyberloafing, sexual harassment, and data theft.

These tools allow an organization to encourage employees to use social media at work while providing them with the means to enforce their policies if too many workers abuse their social networking privileges. 

Company Social Media Policy Example Template

Social media policy template mockup

Get Your FREE Workplace Social Media Policy Template

  • Productivity and security tips for using social media in the workplace
  • Guidelines for representing the organization on social media channels
  • Acceptable vs unacceptable use of social media at work

Get started today—Download the FREE template and customize it to fit the needs of your organization.

START OF TEMPLATE

About This Social Media Policy

This social media policy provides guidance to employees regarding the recommended acceptable use of social media as it relates to their employment with <<COMPANY>>. 

<<COMPANY>> supports the rights of its employees to express themselves freely through social media. These guidelines are not intended to infringe upon protected concerted activities that you as an employee and citizen have a right to engage in. 

The guidelines provided in this document do not apply to an employee’s right to exercise their collective bargaining rights or any other freedoms or rights they have with respect to <<LEGISLATION>>. 

Rather, this policy serves to establish expectations for professional conduct and provide employees with the best practices for representing <<COMPANY>> on social media in both official and unofficial capacities.

For example, employees retain their right to freely discuss their wages or working conditions. While grievances are best settled with direct communication between the employee and relevant parties, employees are free to express their grievances so long as their expression is truthful, lawful, and devoid of discrimination against protected classes.

Any concerns with this policy should be directed to <<CONTACT>> for further discussion.

Scope

These guidelines apply to social media use from two key perspectives: 

  1. Employees, contractors, and consultants that use official <<COMPANY>> social media profiles to represent the company, and;
  2. The professional conduct expectations of any associate that formally or informally represents <<COMPANY>> on their personal social media.

For the purposes of this policy, social media is defined as sites and services that permit users to share information with other users. This includes, but is not limited to, blogs, online forums, wikis, chat rooms, newsletters, social networking sites, and other forms of electronic communication.

Examples of such sites and services include, but are not limited to, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Wikipedia, TikTok, and Reddit. 

Throughout this policy employees will be used to collectively refer to employees, contractors, consultants, and other representatives of <<COMPANY>>.

Social Media Use During Work Hours

While a reasonable amount of personal social media use is permitted during work hours, employees must ultimately act in the best interests of <<COMPANY>>. Personal use of social media must not interfere with your responsibilities as an employee. As such, disregarding job responsibilities and deadlines to use social media at work will not be tolerated.

<<COMPANY>> reserves the right to limit and monitor social media use during work hours through managerial and/or technical means.

All use of social media must abide by <<COMPANY>>’s existing policies, including but not limited to our Acceptable Use Policy, Discrimination & Harassment Prevention Policy, and <<MENTION ANY RELEVANT COMPLEMENTARY SECURITY/CODES OF CONDUCT POLICIES HERE>>.

Guidelines on the Acceptable Use of Social Media

This section provides guidelines that employees should consider when using social media during their employment with <<COMPANY>>.

<<COMPANY>> supports the rights of its employees to express themselves freely through social media. This policy does not seek to unduly restrict the use of personal social media channels. However, employees must be cognizant of the fact that their online conduct may be seen as a representation of <<COMPANY>>. 

Whether they are using social media in an official or unofficial manner, employees should use their best judgment in ensuring that they avoid posting material or engaging in conduct that is inappropriate or harmful to <<COMPANY>>, its employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

Such prohibited material or conduct includes commentary, content, or images that are defamatory, pornographic, proprietary, harassing, libelous, or that can otherwise create a hostile work environment.

Tone, Messaging, and Attitude

  • All employees are expected to conduct themselves professionally in their online activities. All policies and expectations which apply to an employee’s offline conduct also apply to their online communications when representing <<COMPANY>>.
  • Discriminatory remarks, harassment, and threats of violence will not be tolerated and may subject you to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
  • When speaking with or about your colleagues any defamatory, offensive or derogatory content or statements may be subject to <<COMPANY>>’s Discrimination & Harassment Prevention Policy, even when made on your personal accounts.

Company Representation & Conflicts of Interest

  • Employees must be cognizant of the fact that anything shared on the internet can be readily duplicated and spread beyond their intended audience. Therefore, their local posts can have an unintentional global significance.
  • When using social media for personal use you must not represent yourself as a spokesperson for <<COMPANY>> without prior approval.
  • When referencing <<COMPANY>> in your online communications, be transparent about your association with <<COMPANY>> and state that your views are your own to make it clear that you are not speaking on behalf of the company. 
  • Exercise extreme caution when making declarations or promises towards customers and other stakeholders on social media channels. As a guideline, avoid commenting on matters that fall outside of your role. 
  • When operating official accounts you must avoid deleting or ignoring comments with genuine feedback or remarks. These comments are an opportunity to connect with our stakeholders and should be proactively addressed. In the event that a comment, question, or concern falls outside of your area of expertise please leverage relevant internal contacts for assistance.
  • Employees must be honest and accurate in their representation of <<COMPANY>>. In the event that you post misinformation about <<COMPANY>> or post misinformation on <<COMPANY>> social media accounts you must correct or remove the content in a timely manner. Such corrections may require a correction notice depending on the context.
  • Employees are not permitted to create new accounts that directly represent <<COMPANY>> without prior approval from <<CONTACT>>.

Information Security Responsibilities

  • When using personal or corporate social media profiles, employees must maintain the confidentiality of trade secrets and private or confidential information. This includes refraining from making company-related announcements before their official announcement period and posting internal reports, policies, procedures or other confidential internal documents.
  • With regards to financial disclosure laws employees must not provide confidential company information to others with the intention of informing the purchase or sale of stocks or securities.
  • Wherever possible, social media account managers should avoid sharing passwords for company-owned accounts. Social media management tools that allow the addition, limitation, and revocation of account access should be used instead.
  • Company-provided email addresses must not be used to create personal accounts; such misuse increases the risk of accounts becoming compromised. Compromised accounts increase the risk of fraud, data theft, and the further compromise of  <<COMPANY>>’s systems.

Other Best Practices

  • For the most effective resolution, employees are strongly encouraged to settle workplace grievances internally and avoid postings on social media about workplace issues.
  • Employees should be aware that any of the information or communications posted on their social media can potentially be accessed by their colleagues, managers, competitors, law enforcement agencies, and those that may be outside of the employee’s trusted network.
  • It is strongly recommended that employees receive consent before referring to or posting images of current or former employees, vendors, suppliers, and customers.

Intellectual Property Rights & Account Ownership

  • All accounts that are created for the purpose of representing <<COMPANY>> are the sole and exclusive property of the company. This includes all followers, messages, postings, and other content associated with the accounts.
  • All personal accounts will remain the property of the employee. <<COMPANY>> will never request the usernames and passwords for employee-owned social media accounts and any such requests must be reported to <<CONTACT>> for corrective actions.
  • While employees are encouraged to positively represent <<COMPANY>> on their personal social media accounts, said accounts must not be used to officially represent the company without prior approval.
  • When sharing content on <<COMPANY>>’s official social media profiles, employees must exercise due diligence in respecting the intellectual property rights of others. All content that is shared to official accounts must respect copyright and intellectual property laws.
  • Depending on the context of non-original content and relevant copyright and intellectual property laws, all content must be either free of copyrights, be shared with the explicit permission of the copyright owner, or shared with proper attribution to the copyright owner. It’s critical to note that attribution alone is often insufficient.

Enforcement

  • While in the vast majority of instances <<COMPANY>> does not have the authority or desire to dictate what its employees post and share on social media sites, egregious conduct that has the potential to harm the reputation and/or performance of <<COMPANY>>, its customers, employees, and other stakeholders may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination or legal action. 
  • <<COMPANY>> reserves the right to monitor the online activities of its employees as well as any online communications made using company resources. This monitoring may include, but is not limited to, social listening tools, using monitoring tools on company-owned devices and networks, anonymous reports from concerned stakeholders, and the hiring of third-party companies.
  • Wherever possible all grievances will be resolved internally without resorting to legal actions. Extreme cases of misconduct such as intellectual property infringement claims, the neglectful or malicious breach of one’s information security responsibilities, and the dissemination of obscene or hateful materials may require legal action. 

Points of Contact

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns about this policy please direct them to the relevant point of contact. 

  • <<CONTACTS FOR HUMAN RESOURCES, MEDIA, LEGAL, AND OTHER RELEVANT DEPARTMENTS>>

END OF TEMPLATE

Conclusion & More Resources

The use of social media in the workplace presents a unique list of challenges and opportunities for organizations. 

With a clearly defined social media policy you can take advantage of the positive effects of information sharing, employee morale, and employee advocacy while mitigating the possibilities of lost productivity, data breaches, and inappropriate social media use.

If excessive social media use in the workplace is draining the productivity of your employees, consider using workplace internet filtering and monitoring software to control how your employees use social networks during work hours.

Social media policy template mockup

Get Your FREE Workplace Social Media Policy Template

  • Productivity and security tips for using social media in the workplace
  • Guidelines for representing the organization on social media channels
  • Acceptable vs unacceptable use of social media at work

Get started today—Download the FREE template and customize it to fit the needs of your organization.

Dale Strickland
Dale Strickland
Dale Strickland is the Digital Marketing Manager for CurrentWare, a global provider of user activity monitoring, web filtering, and device control software. Dale’s diverse multimedia background allows him the opportunity to produce a variety of content for CurrentWare including blogs, infographics, videos, eBooks, and social media shareables.
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