Once dominated by Facebook to connect with family, friends and customers across the miles – or down the street – social media has exploded to include Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Spring.me, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine, WhatsApp and a dizzying number of other applications. Each channel has its own demographic of users with whom today’s small businesses can connect, engage and convert to loyal customers.
Attorney Kristine Feher is a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s labor and employment practice in New Jersey. She shares four of many areas employers should note as they engage in social media.
- Recruitment and research of potential applicants. Employers who use social media to research potential employees should ensure that such research is performed by human resources professionals who are trained on what information can properly be considered, and can filter the information that is shared with hiring managers.
- Employees’ use of social media. Employees may spend personal time on social media at work, which could include inappropriate comments and pictures, or the disclosure of confidential trade secrets or business information of the employer or its clients, either intentionally or accidentally. For these reasons and a host of others, employers should adopt and maintain policies regarding social media use which address these issues (yet not conflict with the National Labor Relations Act).
- Account ownership. Employers need to create policies and agreements which govern control and ownership of company accounts.
- After-hours compensation. If a marketing assistant tweets or posts for work from her living room couch on a Saturday night, the time spent doing that is probably compensable work time, which must be tracked and paid.