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Why Your Business Needs a Social Media Policy and How to Write One

Controversy surrounds social media platforms every day. Posts or tweets are getting people in hot water (or worse) and the social media companies are reported as being slow to take action. Social media is also amazingly popular and incredibly beneficial when used responsibly. It has also become very hard to distinguish between posts made as an individual and posts made as a representative of an organisation like an employer. That is why an employer needs a social media policy to provide a framework for staff to engage and to provide boundaries for their posts and interactions.

What is a social media policy?

A good social media policy is a living document that provides guidelines for an organisation’s social media use. It should cover every platform and every brand account you have. As well as how employees use social media, both personally and professionally.

Social media is in constantly evolving. A social media policy needs to be dynamic, not something that is written, then put on the shelf to gather dust. The policy should be reviewed at least every six months. Furthermore, the policy needs to be ‘trained out’ into the organisation (like other policies e.g. HR) so that no one can claim they ‘didn’t know or didn’t understand.’

Why are social media policies important?

Here are some very good reasons for a social media policy and how it can help a business and its employees.

  • Maintain consistent brand identity across channels
  • Prevent any security breach
  • Prevent a full-blown PR crisis
  • Act fast if a crisis or breach does happen
  • Be upfront with your employees about their own social media responsibilities
  • Encourage your employees to own and amplify your company values and brand messages

What to include in a social media policy.

  • Ask your HR adviser (or similar) to send you their social media policy template.
  • Seek input from stakeholders including the leadership, HR, marketing and legal teams.
  • Decide where the policy will reside so it has suitable prominence e.g. on the intranet.
  • Launch the social media policy.
  • Arrange for presentations/training on the policy.
  • Schedule suitable e.g. six-month review of the policy.

How to launch a social media policy

Document social media account owners and operators.

Who owns which social accounts? Who covers which responsibilities on a daily, weekly or as-needed basis? It might be helpful to include names and email addresses so that employees from other teams know who to contact.

Establish security protocols.

This covers things like how often account passwords get changed, who maintains them, and who has access to them? Is organisational software updated regularly? What about mobile devices? Who should employees talk to if they want to escalate a concern?

Devise a response framework for any social media / PR crisis.

Yes, a policy exists to avoid a social media crisis. But a policy exists to help manage a crisis should one blow up. The plan should include an up-to-date emergency contact list with specific roles. This includes the social media team, external marketing agencies, the leadership team and also legal advisers.

Compliance with the law.

In relation to privacy, confidentiality, and copyright the social commentators in business all need to understand the law in relation to these three areas.

Provide all staff expectations about how to behave on their personal accounts in respect of their employment.

Employees need to be made aware that violating social media conduct in their own accounts may have implications for their future relationship with their employer. It can be common for employers to ask employees to post disclaimers stating their relationship with your organization, and that their opinions are their own.

For guidance on best practice with all things social and SEO, feel free to contact us

Nick Shrimpton
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