How-Tu Tuesdays: Social Media Policy
Whether your organisation has a social media presence or not, your employees will mostly likely do. Therefore having a social media policy or social media guidelines is essential for every organisation that wants to control their online reputation.
Defining how social media will be used for your organisation and deciding who is going to be responsible for the activity are key parts of your overall social media and marketing strategy (explained in more by Rachael here).
However putting rules in place will avoid confusion about what can and cannot be posted. Easy-to-follow social media guidelines on what is permissible is also more likely to encourage employees to participate online. Unfortunately there isn’t a social media policy template that fits all. As every business is different, every policy will be different. It is important to align your policy document with your company ethos. This should help you find the right tone for your policy; formal, flexible, strict or casual. Your company culture should also guide you on whether you want a guideline advising on social media’s best practice or a policy that ensures compliance.
You can have a strict social media policy that is written formally with little room for interpretation. Dell is a good example of a formal policy that encourages ‘all employees to use Social Media the right way‘ but also communicates the consequences of not following the principles by stating: ‘if you don’t follow the principles laid out below when engaging in Social Media you could face serious consequences up to termination in accordance with the laws of the country where you are employed‘.
One of my favourite social media policies that is written in a very approachable manner is Ford Motor’s. It is fun in its layout, just like social media, and easy to read.
When it comes to actually writing a list of principles and rules for your guideline or policy document, asking yourself and employees these questions is a good place to start:
- What does social media mean to this organisation?
- Why will we use social media?
- Who is our target audience?
- What platforms would we like to use and have a policy on?
- Who will be allowed to communicate under the organisation’s official social media channels: specifically trained employees, certain departments or is it best for us to have everyone’s input?
- Do the chosen individuals have the expertise to represent the organisation officially?
- What type of content will be shared across various social media channels?
- Who will manage and take charge in external and internal crisis situations (i.e negative posts, complaints, abuse, internal conflict… etc)?
- How will we enforce these guidelines?