Anthill Messaging Acceptable Use Policy
Once considered informal, text messaging is now one of the most effective ways to communicate professionally, including for employer-employee communications. As business use of text messaging has increased, so has laws regulating text messages, as well as individual employee expectations. Paying attention to the legal requirements and industry best practices will help avoid issues and further build employee trust.
- Inform Employees Upfront. Tell them what kinds of text messages they can expect. Ultimately, the best way to avoid consent issues with respect to legal compliance to clearly let employees know what your plans are from the start.
- Obtain Opt-In Consent. Due to applicable laws and Anthill’s service requirements, on employers must obtain affirmative opt-in consent from all employees that will be receiving text messages.
- Keep Texts Work Related. To keep employees engaged with your text messages, ensure you are only sending out information that’s work related. Do not send them marketing texts or illogical communications. It is also important to remember that text messages should abide by HR and legal communications compliance requirements. Maintain a professional tone in all text communications. Avoid using slang, abbreviations, or emojis that could be misinterpreted. As a general rule, you should not say anything over text message you would not say in person, over the phone, or via email.
- Make Sure the Purpose is Clear and Appropriate. Employee text messages serve a specific purpose. Generally speaking, they should be dedicated to highly relevant information, such as urgent or important updates, reminders, scheduling changes, etc. You can also use them for employee recognition messages and real-time team collaboration—but the purpose has to be clear and specific for the employees you are engaging with.
- Use the Right Content for the Intended Relevant Audience. If your text contains information that is specific to only certain departments, make sure to send it to the appropriate distribution lists.
- Prohibited Content. Do not send messages that contain the following content:
- Political messages - including messages for soliciting votes or as part of an electoral campaign.
- Fundraising messages - unless you are a nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status.
- Marketing or promotional messages - including any solicitation message designed to induce the purchase of goods or services. In other words, do not use the Anthill service to encourage people to buy something.
- Wireless carrier prohibited content - including messages categorized as S.H.A.F.T. (Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco incl. vape/marijuana/CBD), high-risk financial services such as gambling and stock alerts, or deceptive “get rich quick” schemes.
- Unlawful, tortious, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable.
- Violates, or encourages any conduct that would violate, any applicable law or would give rise to civil liability.
- Promotes discrimination, bigotry, racism, hatred, harassment or harm against any individual or group.
- Is violent or threatening, or promotes violence or actions that are threatening to any other person.
- Promotes, encourages, or facilitates illegal or harmful activities.
- Offensive materials, including without limitation obscene, pornographic, indecent or hateful materials and materials which promote unlawful gambling.
- Set Clear Expectations. Are you sending a reminder, or do you need your employee to act on something immediately? Be sure that your text messages clearly articulate what you need your employee to do—if anything.
- Avoid Texting After Hours. Emergencies happen, and sometimes texting employees after hours is inevitable. Texting about a schedule change after hours is totally acceptable, but you should avoid sending messages that can wait until working hours during the next day. With some messages, like team project updates or customer news, you will need to use your judgment and weigh the urgency. But always ask yourself – can this wait till the workday?
- Clearly Identify the Company. Your business name should always be included in both your opt-in / consent agreement and all subsequent communications. Your recipients should not have to guess or have any confusion regarding the source of text messages they receive from you. Not only does this help recipients identify who is sending them text messages, but it also strengthens your internal and external brand voices and reinforces it within your recipients.
- Be Careful with Messaging Frequency. The amount and timing of messages you plan to send will impact on whether individuals choose to opt in to your communications and whether they are effective. Too few messages can make recipients forget why they are receiving the messages at all, and too many messages can frustrate recipients, causing them to tune out—or worse—unsubscribe. Finding the right frequency of messages, along with the best times to send them, is crucial in order to maximize engagement.
- Easy Opt-out. Employees should have an easy way to opt-out of receiving future text messages, e.g., by texting “STOP” in a reply message. You should also have a process in place to allow people to opt-out by other methods like calling or emailing a certain individual or address. And of course, you should honor all opt-out requests.
- Lawful and Responsible Content. Do not send messages that contain hate, profanity, and depictions or endorsements of violence.
- Be Clear, Concise, and Specific. On account of the shorter format of text messaging, there is not much room for ambiguity. That is why it is important to use text messages to communicate information in a way that leaves little room for misinterpretation. This includes avoiding acronyms that may only be known to some departments, or attempting at humor without sufficient context. If you are not sure whether your message is clear enough before sending, ask a colleague to give it a read. And always make sure to preview your messages before sending.
- No Confidential Information. Work computers usually come with a range of software and tools designed to ensure user security and privacy. Your employees’ personal cell phones do not always have these protections. If notification settings are not properly configured, a confidential message can easily pop up on your employee’s screen and just about everyone can read it. Employee messages are not always as confidential as internal emails. That being said, a text can be a great channel for reminding employees to check their inbox or review a confidential resource available on their intranet or other employee engagement app.
- Record Keeping. Be aware that employer-employee text messages will be considered business records and could be subject to legal retention requirements and discovery in the event of litigation or regulatory investigation.
- Comply with all Applicable Laws. Consult the Company’s legal counsel to confirm all text messages are being sent lawfully and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.