Professional Comment

Hospitality and Social Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

By Harvey Morton, Digital Expert and founder of HarveyMorton.Digital (

No hospitality business would be without social media. It is a good time business, and showing people enjoying themselves is an excellent source of brand enhancement and marketing.The benefits of social media for hotels, restaurants, and other outlets, is significant, and most companies have an active presence on most sites.

Yet, there is no denying the bad of social media and the downright ugly.

A disgruntled employee could do more damage on social media in a moment of anger than any good done by consistent and regular updates by your marketing team.A simple comment about the poor hygiene standards in a kitchen could set a coffee shop back many months.

Consequently, writing a social media policy for your employees is an essential tool for protecting your brand and all colleagues’ best interests. While writing such a policy is akin to walking on eggshells, it is best to undertake this difficult task anyway.

What is a social media policy?

A social media policy will lay out your organisation’s expectations for employees use of social media platforms.The policy will need to respect the law above all else.The Human Rights Act 1998 allows your team the right to respect for private and family life, home, and correspondence. Basically, you must be careful when telling your team what to do when they are not at work.

Equally, you need to be careful with how you choose to monitor social media activity.The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 clarifies that you cannot monitor the posts without the staff member’s permission. If that colleague accepts you as a friend or follower, this is explicit permission to view posts.

Your social media policy should also make clear that these accounts are owned by individuals.This is vital.The ownership of the social media account makes the individual responsible for any fallout from inappropriate or even criminal content. As a company, you want to be sure you are not seen as liable for this.

What you hope to achieve with your policy

Obviously, the number one goal of your policy is to protect your brand. Setting expectations for social media use reduces the chances for error and prevents confusion about what is and what isn’t seen as professional to your company.

There are positive aspects to this too.When your team post positive messages about your company, you are leveraging the potency of employ- ee advocacy.Your business social media account might make it clear you are unique but imagine how much more powerful it sounds from someone who works for you.

What should I include in my policy?

Having a look at other companies’ policies is a sound starting point. Often there is a request for transparency and disclosure. In other words, you ask your team to tell you when they are on social media.You might also ask that they act responsibly and professionally when posting.You should acknowledge that having fun and connecting is great; expressing concerns can negatively affect all.

The skill in writing this policy is getting the tone right and seeking buy-in from the start. It will be worth the effort.