What To Include In a Social Media Policy

Blog post written by Georgina Coates who is Social Media Manager at UK based, integrated communications agency Kindred. Follow George on Twitter @GeorgieC and catch her own social media thoughts at: What’s a Girl to Do?


Building on my last blog post the Social Media Policy – not just for the big players I felt it was worth sharing some pointers on what should be included if you are drafting this document on behalf of your business or client.

Not one for the bottom drawer

Remember that you want your policy to empower the reader to embrace social media rather than scare them off. This means ensuring that there is no complicated, technical jargon (if this needs to be included then make sure there is a glossary of terms at the back of the document) and that it is presented in easily digestible format (clearly defined sections, bite-sized paragraphs, tables for stats etc…) 

 

INTRO/REMIT – THE IMPORTANT BIT

Clearly describe the purpose of the document up front and how you would like it’s recipients to use it. This will of course vary from business to business so have a think about these following questions to help determine how you can set the scene and what areas your policy should be covering:

1. Do your employees have a basic understanding of what social media is? If not, I would recommend a section on the importance of social media and what it means for your business. This could include topline stats on the reach of different channels, user profiles and even case studies to show how other companies are using said channels.

2. Do your employees blog on behalf of your company? If yes, then it may be that as part of the document you lay down some editorial guidelines (how the company name should be presented, tone of voice, imagery).

3. Are your employees in charge of company communities ie: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter? If yes, then your policy will need to include a section on community management and moderation – when to respond to issues and when to take a step back.

4. Do the majority of your employees have existing social media profiles? In many cases the answer will be yes and it is for this reason that the majority of social media policies are created – company protection. Rather then being negative about employees private networks this policy should simply be positioned to encourage them to take responsibility for what they write and be mindful or who may be reading their comments.

PERSONAL VS. PRIVATE

 
It is important to convey to employees that there no longer exists a line between public and private profiles online especially with the visibility of social network information in search results. The policy should clearly state that the company reserves the right to request that certain content/copy be avoided/removed. This section should also include details on:

–  Potential Audiences: There could be multiple different audiences reading what employees write. These could include clients, suppliers, other work colleagues and media – all with their own agendas when searching for information online. Even on personal profiles employees should include the disclaimer which states that their views are their own and not of the company or clients they represent.

–  Getting those privacy settings ON: It sounds straight forward but it is essential that all employees are taken through how to get their privacy settings set correctly. Alongside including this as a section within your social media policy, also consider this as part of a company workshop.

Taking Responsibility: As mentioned above, employees represent their company at all times and so should be respectful to other colleagues and not write anything that should put their company’s reputation at risk. They should not be disclosing anything that is confidential or proprietary.

COMPANY BRAND IN A COMPANY ENVIRONMENT
(only necessary if you require your employees to blog on behalf of your business or manage an online community)

 

– Be Transparent: When conversing in a community employees need to state clearly who they are and who they represent. Creating fake personas will only lead to a lack of trust

– Editorial Guidelines/Policies: These need to be clearly referred to so that all employees are aware of how they present their company online. This includes using company logos/trademarks. It is worth noting that already established ‘Tone of Voice’ guidelines may need adapting for the social media environment to make them more conversational and engaging.

-Knowing when to Engage: The key to good community management is knowing when to engage and when to sit back and allow the community converse organically.

-Approval Process: It may be that you have a core group of individuals who approve content that gets published online. If this is the case then make sure that any processes are clearly defined.

All the sections above I recommend thinking about when putting together your social media policy however it may be the case that other sections will apply such as legal considerations and/or an issue escalation process. Setting the scene (the Intro and Remit) will determine exactly what you need to cover, so think long and hard about the objectives of this document and how extensive it needs to be to cover your business’ digital footprint (which includes that of every single one of your employees).

Why You Need a Social Media Policy in Your Organization

In a previous post called Implement a Social Media Policy: Make Your Employees Brand Ambassadors, Marina introduced what a Social Media Policy is and briefly described why it is important for your organization. In this article, I’m going to elaborate further on the importance of a policy and point out the main reasons why it’s crucial for you as an employer, for your employees and for your brand to have such a policy. (more…)