Most of us will use social media in our personal lives and increasingly in our professional lives too. Social media is a fantastic tool for connecting with our customers, members and colleagues to share our great work as well as telling people about the products and services we have to offer.

As well as this policy, we’ve also got a set of community social media principles that we ask everyone engaging with us on social media to read to make sure they’re representing themselves and Co-op in the best way when posting online.

We want to encourage our colleagues to share their passion for their work through social media in a reasonable and appropriate way that does not put either the business, customers or colleagues at risk.

Just so you know, this policy covers colleague use of all major social media platforms including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok and WhatsApp. The policy also covers colleagues engaging with the Nisa brand.

Crucial bits

Using Social Media at Work

We support and encourage you to actively use your social media profiles to promote your role and Co-op. We have developed an online platform called Social Hub which can help you do this by sharing pre-approved social media content directly to your personal social media accounts.

However, we appreciate that you might also want to engage with communities, colleagues and customers in other ways through your own generated content. If you do this it’s important to be aware that any time you are engaging in conversation or sharing updates about Co-op, you are representing our business. If you want to share your own content on any social media platform (including on communication tools such as Whats App and Snapchat), you must follow the guidelines below.

When sharing information on social media as a Co-op colleague you must not:

Post anything that could be viewed as discrimination or bullying or harassment by others, for example by:

  • Making offensive or derogatory comments relating to sex, gender reassignment, race (including nationality), disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity or age
  • Using social media to bully another individual (such as another Co-op colleague); or
  • Posting images that are discriminatory or offensive (or links to such content)

Bring Co-op into disrepute, for example by:

  • Criticising or arguing with customers, colleagues or rivals
  • Making offensive or defamatory comments about individuals or other organisations or groups; or
  • Posting images that are inappropriate or links to inappropriate content

Breach confidentiality, for example by:

  • Revealing trade secrets or information owned by the business
  • Giving away confidential information about an individual (such as a colleague or customer) or organisation (such as a rival business); or
  • Discussing the organisations internal workings or future business plans that have not been communicated to the public

Breach copyright, for example by:

  • Using someone else’s images or written content without permission
  • Failing to give acknowledgement where permission has been given to reproduce something

Breach our guidance on Social media accounts, for example by:

  • Creating any social media accounts whether branded or non-branded for a Food Store, Area, Region, Department, Depot or Funeralcare home including use of the Co-op brand without Co-op’s permission

If you’re using social media as part of your job, or you’re responsible for an official Co-op social media account, then there are extra social media resources to help you.

It might go without saying, but if you post comments or images on social media as a Co-op colleague that people could view as offensive, discriminatory, bullying or threatening, we’ll deal with it through the usual channels. This means we may follow the Disciplinary Policy. This is also true if you’ve ‘liked’ or shared something someone else has posted or if its shared within any Social Media platform including within a What’s App group. Please be aware that anything you share even if shared within a private group may be seen in the public domain.

If you wouldn’t say it or behave like that in work, don’t do it online. We may ask you to remove online content that’s not in line with this Policy. If you don’t remove it when we ask, we may take disciplinary action up to and including summary dismissal.

You still need to follow our other policies when you’re posting things online. Take a look at Co-op’s Bullying and Harassment/Respect Policy, Acceptable Use of Technology Policy and Data Protection Policy.

That’s not to say you can’t express your personal views online, just do so respectfully. And if you’re commenting on something that the Co-op has an interest in, then just make it clear that your opinion is your own and you’re not speaking on behalf of Co-op.

Using Social Media outside of work

We know of course that most of our colleagues use social media outside of work. Whilst you may not be directly acting on Co-op's behalf when sharing content in your own time, you do need to be aware that there are potential consequences for Co-op if you’re recognised as being a Co-op colleague.

We recommend that all colleagues conduct a privacy audit of all their social media accounts to make sure that their privacy settings are reflective of the information they want to share publicly. It’s up to all colleagues to set their own boundaries between their personal and professional online presence.

This is especially important for ensuring that historical posts you may have shared cannot be found and used against you even before working for us. We have all posted things on Social Media which we may no longer agree with or are no longer reflective of our views – make sure these posts cannot be found in the future by checking your privacy settings. Just so you know for some roles in Co-op we may check your social media accounts as part of the recruitment process.

If you don’t have the correct privacy settings, other social media users may be able to locate sensitive or personal information about you including who you work for. Find out more about the individual platform security settings here:

Just so everyone’s clear, any breach of the Social Media Policy may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including summary dismissal.

Things to think about

If you’ve got a concern or complaint about work, we want you to tell us so we can resolve it, and not to put it on social media. Speak to your manager or follow the Grievance Policy or Whistleblowing Policy.

If you’ve got a question and want to ask us directly, you can contact us on colleague Facebook or direct message us on Twitter at @coopuk.

We all make mistakes, so if you think you’ve posted something you shouldn’t have, let us know as soon as possible so we can get it sorted.

We have included our responses to questions we frequently get asked below to help you understand this policy further:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take photos in staff only areas?

We would advise against capturing any photography or videos in areas not open to the public as that can lead to potential security breaches. If you are unsure whether a piece of content could be considered risky, please seek guidance from your manager before posting.

Can I share my thoughts on politics?

We do not want to stop colleagues being able to express their thoughts and views on matters they care about using social media, however, aware that their views may have the potential to offend others or bring Co-op into disrepute whether posting in or outside of work.

Do I need to tell people I'm taking photos of them?

Yes! As a minimum we should always make it clear to people who are attending an activity that we might be taking photos. This should include an explanation as to how / where the image will be used. For example, if it’s a general picture of an activity that’s only intended for a local social media post then let people know, but if it’s intended for the wider press then we’d also want people to be aware of that.

The key is to be as clear and upfront as possible with what’s happening, as this way people can make an informed choice as to whether they’re comfortable and want to be involved.

Where photos are being taken, it makes sense to include the above information in any advance communications or invites about the activity – this should help people be clear about what’s happening and we’d have something we could point back to if someone subsequently said they weren’t aware. Another good tip would be to put up some signs explaining photos might be taken.

What if someone says they don't want to have their picture taken?

We always want to respect people’s wish for privacy, which might be for any number of reasons and therefore you should do your best to accommodate this. This might be by having an area for people who don’t want to have their picture taken (this is what we do at the AGM), or of course by simply not taking their picture, which would obviously be much easier in a small group or in a posed for picture.

Do I need to get people to sign a form?

Not usually, no. The main thing to be clear about is ensuring people know what’s happening. As mentioned, this is usually best explained in any pre communication or simply by telling people – the latter is obviously much easier in a posed for picture.

A consent form feels a bit formal or overly legal to most people and might even unsettle some attendees.

Where we would recommend getting signed permission forms (see below) is if you’re taking photos of an event with vulnerable people, for example, children or people who might otherwise have a heighted sense of their privacy such as a Domestic Violence or Sexual Health charity. In these cases a form might be sensible to ensure we can prove that we told people what would be happening. Even here though, the key thing is to be confident people are clear about how their picture will be used – the form is an additional way of conveying this, not a disclaimer of their rights.

How long can I use the pictures for?

This is best judged on a case by case basis, considering the context of the photos and how they’re being used. For example, if the photos are of a local cause then they might be more comfortable with the photos being used on an ongoing basis given their relationship with us. In general though, after 12-18 months life might have moved on for the people pictured and they might not be comfortable anymore. Where there’s an ongoing relationship we could always check back to see whether they’re still comfortable. Obviously if someone approached us to ask us to no longer use an image we’d try our very best to respect that wish.

By being open and respectful with people, we’re comfortable we won’t have any issues.

Should I set up a new account if I want to post about work?

It is entirely up to you if you wish to post about work on your personal profile, or have a profile dedicated to sharing updates about your work, however, if sharing updates to your personal profile please follow the guidance around making sure your account privacy settings are correct to ensure no historical posts you may have shared which breach our social media policy and that your content follows the guidelines set out above.

Can I post on social media whilst at work?

Unless it’s part of your role, you shouldn’t be using social media whilst at work, unless you are on your break.

Can I set up a social media page for my store/area/region?

No. Co-op accounts which are affiliated in any way with a store/funeralcare home/depot/area/region or department are not allowed under our Social media accounts policy. The only Co-op branded accounts that are permitted are managed and/or accessed by our Social Media Team. Colleagues are encouraged to use their personal accounts to share updates about their work as Co-op colleagues, following the guidance in this policy.

If you need further support

If you’ve seen posts that contain inappropriate comments or images, contact the Social Media Team or in Private Message or Direct Message on Facebook or Twitter.

If managers need advice about dealing with issues involving social media they should contact ER Services.