What exactly is a social media policy? A social media policy is a document that provides guidelines for your organization’s social media use on official brand channels and the personal accounts of your employees. With so many channels available, it’s easy for employees to get confused about what they can say on their personal accounts or what their employers expect them to do. It eliminates gray areas by letting your employees know exactly what is permitted on social channels. It also safeguards the public image of your brand. Think of it as a clear and accessible guide on how your organization should conduct itself on the internet. So why do you need a social media policy at all? Is this just extra paperwork? Not at all.
A good social media policy will:
Maintain your brand identity across all channels.
It’s vital to keep all social content consistent and on-brand. With clear-cut policies, you don’t have to worry about what is being shared. Online conversations surrounding your brand will stay relevant and appropriate.
Protect your accounts against phishing, hacking, security breaches, and impostor accounts.
Social media can pose data risks and breaches. Addressing the operational side of things prevents employees from sharing or disclosing confidential information via social media. You can also use your policy to instruct employees on how to use privacy settings to prevent data leaks.
Address how employees respond in the event of a crisis.
Employee conduct in the event of an incident can make a world of difference. Anything that can prevent a potential PR crisis is a necessity, right? If a customer has a complaint about your product or service or posts something about your company online, how should your staff respond? Having an emergency response plan established can quickly help diffuse the situation.
Encourage your employees to amplify your business.
Your employees’ activity on social media can come with benefits. It can be a valuable tool for businesses, especially if you want to encourage your employees to use their platforms as part of an overall marketing strategy. They can help drive brand awareness, promote your business, and encourage engagement or customer loyalty.
Provide guidance for employees’ personal social media accounts.
If your employees know exactly what is permitted on their social media, there will be less room for fear about what is allowed. Employee advocacy helps build brand awareness at a time when it’s becoming increasingly competitive to attract views and engagement. Employees can amplify brand awareness by sharing company news or updates via social channels. Your company should want to encourage employees to post. It can also lay out policies for distinct groups of people with different roles within an organization (for example, managers versus hourly employees).
If your company doesn’t have a social media policy yet, when creating one, make sure it’s specific enough so there’s no confusion about what’s expected of employees (and what isn’t). Yet, also tailor it to company policies and standards. For example, if you don’t want employees using profanity on social media channels, say so — even if it seems obvious. The best policies are specific, straightforward, and easy to understand.
Here are a few key questions to consider when creating a social media policy:
What are the goals of your business?
What does your company stand for?
How does the business want to convey its message?
What are the values of your organization?
What types of platforms will employees use?
Are there any specific platforms or networks that should be included in the policy?
Do you want employees to use specific hashtags or mention certain brands on platforms?
What level of approval is required before publishing new content online?
Are employees permitted to check their accounts during work hours?
What should they do if they see inappropriate content posted by others on their behalf (i.e., impostor accounts)?
Do you want employees posting photos or videos from work events, and/or what type of content is allowed (such as company retreats)?
These are all questions that should be addressed in your social media policy so that all employees have clear guidelines for handling your company’s online presence.
An important thing to remember is that a social media policy is a living document that should be updated regularly to reflect changes in technology and in your organization’s goals and objectives. We recommend keeping it in an employee handbook or an accessible web document. A social media policy can be an important tool for businesses, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Social media policies come in all different formats, but they all have one thing in common: they help protect businesses from legal issues that can arise as a result of employees posting on social media.
Do you have a corporate social media policy in place?