Inside Experts: Striking a balance between censoring your employees and protecting your company’s brand online

5 tips for crafting social media policies

My son was born at the end of the Millennial generation. He is 11 years old and owns an iPod and a MacBook Pro. (When I was 11, I had a set of walkie-talkies and an Etch-A-Sketch.) It’s fairly easy to punish my son when he’s not behaving like he should: I simply take away his Apple products. Works every time. The prospect of being without mobile Internet connectivity strikes more fear in my son than anything else I know.

I have also observed that my son is very open about his opinions on politics, teachers and the dinner his mother cooked. I would say that those two traits—personal transparency and inter-connectedness—fairly sum up the Millennial generation.

Millennials, who now dominate the workforce, grew up with the Internet, which was (and still is) largely unregulated and available to anyone. We feel free to say things online that we wouldn’t say anywhere else. Many Millenials have never had a physical office; they work anywhere they can get cell reception. The space between work and personal time has vanished.

How, then, can in-house lawyers develop coherent, effective social media policies? Simply applying existing employee workplace policies to Facebook, blogs, etc., isn’t enough. For me, a good social media policy achieves a few basic business objectives, while at the same time recognizing both the Millennial generation’s sensibilities and the disappearance of boundaries in the age of the Internet:

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Eric Esperne

Eric Esperne is counsel for Dell Services and is located in Canton, Mass. He has more than 15 years experience as in-house counsel for government,...

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