If the last few months have taught us anything, it’s that without clear-cut policies in place, our world can quickly devolve into a chaotic spin. From extended personnel leave to sanitation and cleanliness, to business interruption policies, owners and managers have had their hands full jumping from one issue to the next. Unfortunately, I’m about to dump one more thing on your desk: your business’s Social Media Policy.
Understand that a social media policy is more than a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s a living document designed to outline the expectations and responsibilities of the people posting to your company’s social media accounts, as well as rules of conduct for the public on what is allowed on your business social media pages. This is important for several reasons:
● A business can maintain its brand identity across multiple channels.
● Legal and regulatory issues are handled with awareness and sensitivity.
● Security breaches can be prevented.
● A full-blown PR crisis can be potentially averted.
● In the event of a crisis or breach, staff can react and resolve a matter quickly.
● Employees and ownership are educated about their own social media responsibilities.
● Employees are encouraged to grow and amplify your business’s message.
Creating the policy
Like any business document, it’s best to start a Social Media Policy by covering the basics, including:
- What are employees’ roles and responsibilities in creating, posting and responding to social media on the company’s accounts?
- Who has access to these accounts?
- How often do passwords get changed?
- How often will social media managers get trained?
- What devices can be used to post on the company’s social media?
From there, the next important issue to tackle is a code of conduct. Let’s assume your employees are trustworthy from this aspect, but the real concern is preventing your business from becoming the victim of trolling and smear campaigns.
A social media page should be a place to share positive and informative content about your organization, and this policy should be communicated to visitors. State on your social media pages that your company reserves the right to delete any posts that contain material that is defamatory, harassing, illegal or off-topic. Provide the customer service contact information in your code of conduct policy, and remind followers that you are available to help and offer personal service offline.
Staying within the law
Your policy should also outline specific content requirements that will protect the organization from running afoul of the legal system, including:
● Copyright: Not everyone understands that using third-party content without approval is a breach of copyright law. Ensure staff have a clear understanding of what tools are available to them so they aren’t searching for artwork or other content that isn’t licensed.
● Privacy: Do all employees know how to handle customer information? Make sure your people don’t run into trouble without even realizing they’ve stepped over the line.
● Confidentiality: Do employees understand that certain internal information about your organization should not be discussed publicly? Even if staff sign nondisclosure agreements, they should be aware of the consequences of disclosing information on social media that the organization considers private. (Read more)