No matter if your business is on social media or not, your employees and partners most probably are. That’s why a company shouldn’t wait for its first social media account to create a policy. Even more, if you are going to get on with the social media journey as a company, you need to create a social media policy first.
Your social media policy cannot be just a list of do's and dont's for your employees.
It needs to be a guide to netiquette that leaves little to interpretation.
Value of social media to your business
Encouraging your employees, partners, suppliers and customers to use social media, and communicate through it, opens up new opportunities for business. A company should never be afraid of the publicity of social media. Rather, it should learn to use it in an open and transparent way.
Here are a few suggestions as to what your social media policy might cover:
- Blog policy
- Social media netiquette
- Personal social media policy
- LinkedIn policy
- Company password policy
- Corporate Twitter policy
It is okay to have one overall policy and sub-policies concerning different social media platforms and communication channels.
As a guideline, we have listed the 10 most important best practices for your social media policy:
- State to what channels and social media networks your policy applies. You might want to have different policies for different social networks or stakeholders.
- Talk about the purpose of social media for your company and the limitations that its use will have.
- Include a confidentiality note – any social posts shouldn’t release information that is private to colleagues, the company, customers or partners.
- Full disclosure clause. When someone makes a comment about the company or its products or services they need to identify themselves as an employee. That’s a basic disclosure for example: "The views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of (your company’s name)."
- Internet postings should respect all copyright and trademark laws and regulations. Adhering to the law when using social media seems like a no-brainer but including such a clause keeps you in the safe zone.
- Restrictions. Your company should always have the right to restrict certain postings, topics, images, etc. In your policy you can include that you might request certain postings be removed.
- The way employees interact with customers. You should have a clear policy regarding the community. For example, how do you answer complaints on Twitter or Facebook?
- No use of trademarks or company logos without the permission of the company.
- Use of corporate social media accounts. Employees might need to consult supervisors before posting on corporate social media. However, it is up to you to stretch this restriction here. Some companies encourage employees to be active on LinkedIn, for example, and post industry and company related news without tight control.
- The time spent on social media. Some organizations require their employees to spend 10-20 minutes on social media daily to interact with customers and leads. However, this time should not stretch too long so employees don’t lose focus, and this should be stated in your policy.
If you have a legal department, you should include them in the process but don’t let them lead it. Alternatively, you can consult your lawyer over the phone or email regarding your social media policy. This policy is a legal, HR and communications departments’ mutual effort and should reflect the desired behavior of your employees and partners online.
Last but not the least, it’s a good idea to communicate this policy to everyone in the company (and why not even out of it – partners and clients can benefit from it) and be open to constructive criticism.
Social media is constantly changing and so will your social media policy. Use it, and edit it as you go.