Suppose, for a moment, that you’ve decided your business needs to have an official social media policy. Now you’ve got to figure out what your brand-new policy should include.
Details of the policy will differ a bit depending on whether or not your company uses social media for marketing and/or customer relations. Regardless, as I outlined in an earlier post, your policy needs to define acceptable and unacceptable types of online conduct as specifically as possible.
The policy, at the very least, should cover these three main areas of concern:
1. Purpose. This section needs to explain why your company has a social media policy in the first place. If you use sites like Facebook and Twitter as communications or marketing tools, what are your overall goals and how does the policy help you achieve them? A set of clearly stated guiding principles will help your employees understand the philosophy they need to keep in mind whenever they engage via social media on the company’s behalf.
You also need to explain how the policy applies to employee conduct when they’re using personal social media accounts and blogs. Keep in mind that personal conduct on social media has fairly broad legal protection in comparison to conduct on “company” accounts — but you can still regulate discussion of official business, use of business branding and the protection of privileged business information.
2. Permissions. This part of the policy details who can represent the company in social media and outlines the workflow for publication. Who writes your blog articles or Facebook posts, and who reviews everything before it goes online? How are the employees who work with your social media empowered to deal with customers and customer service issues?
3. Responsibility. Make sure employees understand that, ultimately, they are responsible for what they post or publish in social media. They need to use their best judgement and scrupulously follow legal guidelines for copyright, fair use and privacy concerns. You don’t want your social media policy to stifle healthy interaction with customers and peers, but you need to be sure the folks who represent your company online always conduct themselves in a courteous and professional manner.