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Workplace Web Policies for Businesses

November 24, 2009

Company Internet Policy: Without Such a Policy Your Company Reputation May Be at Risk

A person who proclaimed that he didn’t know anything about Internet marketing discovered that his company, of which he is a senior exec, had an unauthorized company blog.

How could that be? He didn’t know, but his company had no Internet policy for his employees.

The unauthorized blog was not on the company’s Web site, but instead was a hosted WordPress.com blog with his company’s name. The blog itself couldn’t actually be read because it was password protected, which means whoever was writing it was only allowing specific people to read the contents.


It’s important to realize that anyone can choose any name for a blog on a hosted site. There’s no gatekeeper saying: Do you have a legitimate right to call your blog by your employer’s company name?

RED LIGHT FLASHING: Let this be a warning for all senior company execs who have chosen not to know about social media and blogging. Your employees may be writing about you in your company name without your knowledge.

IMMEDIATE SOLUTION: One, start learning about social media and blogging ASAP. Either read everything you can on the subject right now, or hire a company to get you up to speed quickly.

Two, immediately set in place a company Internet policy. This does NOT take months to write. It’s really rather simple – once you yourself understand how such social networks as Twitter Facebook, and YouTube as well as blogging work on the Internet.

A basic company Internet policy should make it very clear what an employee is and is not allowed to do online — both on and off company time.

The purpose of the company Internet policy is to protect the reputation of the company and control use of the Internet on company time.

As this is an area of law still being developed, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney regarding how to treat these issues in your employee manual:

  • - What limitations can you set on employees accessing the Internet for personal reasons during work hours?
  • - Do you have the right to stop employees talking about their jobs online?
  • - What obligations to alert you to negative publicity found online about the company can you impose on employees?

Although these areas of law are not yet well-defined, this is no reason to not have any policy. Better to have a basic policy rather than give your employees no standards and then be surprised when someone’s online behavior bites into your company’s reputation.

About the Author: Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is an Internet business consultant whose power marketing website is http://www.MillerMosaicLLC.com . If you liked this article, you’ll love her free report on “Power Marketing’s Top 3 Internet Marketing Tips” ‘ grab your report now from http://www.TeachMeInternetBusiness.com

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