For volunteer leaders, the need to maintain a professional demeanor, even outside of office hours, is also true on social media.
However, outside of outright offensive or inappropriate content, there can be a fine line when it comes to what one association is or isn’t comfortable with its leaders posting.
Here’s guidance for creating a social media policy:
- Have one policy for paid staff and one for unpaid volunteers. Reason: Federal labor law protects some staff activities such as comments on working conditions or wages. State privacy may also apply. Work with legal counsel to determine what staff content is protected.
- Guidelines should be be detailed and clear. For example, “Avoid making statements or posting photographs that could reasonably harm the association.”
- Define what information your association considers confidential, sensitive, financial or proprietary—and spell out to staff and volunteers that it should never be shared on social media.
If you have volunteer leaders who don’t adhere to your guidelines, reach out and ask them to resolve the situation by withdrawing, correcting or revising their post, depending on the language of your social media policies. “The leader may not understand that the content could reflect poorly on the association and all REALTORS®,” says Kate Moore, vice president of member experience at the National Association of REALTORS®. “Often, these types of difficult conversations can best be had member to member through an influential and respected member of your leadership team or past volunteer leaders.”
But the best advice for anyone, adds Moore, is boiled down to five words: “If in doubt, don’t post.”