Jane Binnion column

Jane Binnion from Lancaster, social media trainer.

Jane Binnion from Lancaster, social media trainer.

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We’re well and truly back to it aren’t we; kids back at school, homework every night and loads of people ill already.

My business has got extra busy too. It was predicted that there would be a significant increase in spending on social media this year and it seems like that has just hit the North.

My sense is that during the summer break people have taken stock, decided that social media isn’t a fad after all and that they’d better get to grips with it.

I’ve just been invited to the Midlands to talk to a group of nervous Head Teachers about using twitter.

I’m not really surprised they’re nervous, there’s so much bad press around about social media you would hardly believe that millions of people are using it perfectly well without getting sacked, sued, or arrested.

This week I ran a seminar on social media and employment law with Amy Stokes, employment solicitor from Forbes.

Now a year ago we would have got no more than 20 people to a session like this, but we had 50 people turn up. As a trainer I was delighted with the outcome, as most of the attendees went away with an action plan to simplify their policy and train their staff. That’s absolutely what is needed.

A big problem we have is that organisations either do not have a social media policy because they don’t know what to write, or have a policy that no one understands because it was written by someone who doesn’t understand social media.

My advice to anyone writing a social media policy is keep it short, simple and avoid legal speak. A policy is meant to protect the organisation and the staff, so using language that everyone can understand is obviously essential.

A judge recently told me of a case that had gone to tribunal. A member of staff had done something wrong on social media even after signing the policy. The staff member said that they didn’t understand the policy and the judge agreed with them that it was over-complicated.

Knowing that, I advise people writing a policy to think of the person in your organisation who is least likely to understand the issues, then write it with them in mind. If they understand it then you’ve cracked it.