10 Guidelines to Creating a Social Media Policy

Writing a social media policy is similar to writing a will. Everyone needs to have one, it is important to make sure it includes all of the necessary legal components, and most people do not have one when it is needed. According to an article published by Bloomberg Law, "75 percent of their workforce access social media daily on the job, but only 23 percent of the employees, however had received a social media policy from their employers."

source: gatheryourcrowd.com

  • A social media policy outlines guidelines for employees when communicating online. Write a complete policy that addresses every social media platform and how an employee should interact on each platform available.
  • Similar to updating a will, update a social media policy as needed and adjust accordingly.

Mario Sundar, a LinkedIn evangelist explains, "Social media may be a huge opportunity for your employees to help build your company's brand, but let's not forget that there also exists a tremendous risk for individual employees to inadvertently damage the company's brand, and by defining a set of guidelines you help mitigate that risk." Below are ten guidelines to follow when creating a social media policy:

  1. Define "Social Media" - Clearly define what social media means in the organization. This may include social networking websites, blogs, forums, and any other form of digital communication. Creating a policy that clearly outlines which platforms are used for the company brand. By crafting a policy you can, improve the effectiveness of your social media campaign and limit the risk of potential issues moving forward.
  2. Have a Social Voice - Develop a social media voice that is consistent among all employees. This is key to brand consistency. Either have the tone of voice clearly defined in the social media policy or have all posts filtered through a marketing or community manager.
  3. Know Your Audience - Consider what information the audience is searching for and how to provide that information through social media platforms. For a guide to developing audience personas, reference our slides from February's webinar.
  4. Use Good Judgment - Have an opinion; however, refraining from comments that could be viewed as slurs, demeaning, or inflammatory is always a sound policy. "Bottom line: good judgment is paramount regardless of whether an employee's online comments relate directly to their job," reflects Sharyln Lauby who is a human resources professional speaker.
  5. Follow the Law - Always give proper credit for work that is referenced or shared. Follow privacy, fair use, financial disclosure and all applicable laws.
  6. Protect Internal and Confidential Material - Outline what information is acceptable to share and what is to remain protected by the company. The community or marketing manager protects any confidential or proprietary information to the company.
  7. Create a Balance - Allowing employees to engage and interact on social media is imperative to creating brand advocates, but writing out a clear outline of the desired balance between social media and other work sets expectations throughout the workplace.
  8. Fit Within your Organization - Draft a social media policy that follows the current core competencies, employment policies, and reflects the organization's business objectives.
  9. Focus on what Employees can do on Social Media rather than what they cannot; this will encourage employees to become brand advocates.
  10. Create Clear Sets of Expectations for personal use versus company use. For example, a company may want to require that if an employee states on their personal Twitter account that they are an employee of a company that the things they tweet are no the opinions of the company. Conversely, companies should require that employees identify themselves as a company representative.

Once your social media policy is created, it is important to make all employees aware of the policy and address any questions or concerns up front to avoid any mishaps. For examples of well-written social media policies explore the Social Media Governance Policy Database.

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