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Tapping staff for social media

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Question:

I am currently a server. I recently started taking over the social media for my restaurant, and all our content is hitting it off. Should I get paid for creating posts and taking pictures, aside from my regular serving duties?

– Laura Dampf, Server, Polly’s, Orange, Calif.

Answer:

Congratulations on your success running the social media for your operation. Many independent operators are finding that it’s beneficial to have one or more employees designated to post to social media on a regular schedule, in addition to responding to comments and inquiries. Having an employee’s voice and commitment to social media—especially if the employee understands marketing—also has some advantages over an outsourced PR or communications firm in that your knowledge of the operation and passion for the brand may shine through.

In your question, we need to distinguish between what is right and what is allowed. As we’ve previously discussed in this column, unless you have a contract or are covered by a collective bargaining agreement—both rare in restaurants—your employer can certainly ask you to take on social media as part of your duties without extra compensation, just as she or he may ask you to do other tasks. In tip credit states, if the work takes a significant amount of time, as I assume it does (as opposed to posting a quick photo here and there), your employer should not take the tip credit during that time and you should earn full minimum wage or higher.

That said, social media savvy is a valuable skill; and since it is going well, I recommend you have a frank conversation about the return on your efforts, and the money you are saving your employer over an outside entity. To the extent you are able, try to show how effective your work is in building the audience for the restaurant. I think you can and should negotiate for special compensation for this work—the worst you might hear is “no.”

More on managing social media from the archives here.

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