More and more companies are adopting the Nike philosophy of ‘Just Do It’ when it comes to social media. And while there is value in jumping in the water, companies and organizations are increasingly seeing the need for a social media policy that will help employees understand how these tools should be used on behalf of their employer. If your company or organization is considering creating a formal social media policy, here are 10 areas to consider:
1 – Defining what ‘Social Media’ is to your business. You can ask 10 different people what the term ‘social media’ means, and gets 10 different definitions. Your employees are no different, you need to define exactly what sites/tools/etc fall under the ‘social media’ umbrella for the purposes of your policy. For example, most people consider Twitter and Facebook to be social media, but what about email? Your blog? Your website? See how clarity can help?
2 – Make employees aware of any special communication considerations involving your industry. The pharmaceutical industry, for example, has strict guidelines as to what company representatives can and cannot say to current/potential customers via social media channels. Make sure your legal team is involved to make you aware of what the boundaries are.
3 – Define what ‘acceptable behavior’ is for your employees via social media. What language can they use? How does their tone and the way they respond reflect on the company’s branding and culture. Will what they post on the personal Facebook account impact their employment? Spell everything out so there can be no confusion later.
4 – Define what employees should and should not disclose. For example, employees should always disclose their affiliation with the employer when posting content to social media sites, and shouldn’t disclose financial information about the company that ‘isn’t for public consumption’.
5 – Make sure employees understand the ‘chain of command’ and who owns what. If different groups/departments should handle responses based on content, etc, then clearly spell that out so the intern in product design doesn’t respond when the manager in PR should be.
6 – Spell out copyright usage in content creation. Make sure employees understand and respect copyright laws regarding the usage of other people’s content.
7 – Make sure that employees understand they are responsible for the content they create and the responses they make. Remember these three words: ‘Google Never Forgets’.
8 – Create stand-alone policies for additional social media presences that the company maintains. For example, if your company has a blog, it should also have a corporate blogging policy. Different tools have different audiences and goals, and require a slightly different approach. For example, the Air Force has a fabulous flow-chart for responding to online comments.
9 – Make sure all employees understand what your social media strategy is. Help them understand what you are trying to accomplish via social media, and that will help them understand how their efforts feed into that ultimate goal.
10 – Make sure employees understand that their social media usage on behalf of the company will be monitored. Also remind them of employee guidelines, and how their behavior using social media is governed by this.
So if your company or organization is ready to start creating your social media policy, these are 10 points to consider. If you want to research the existing social media policies from other companies and organizations, here is a great list.
If your company or organization has a formal social media policy for its employees, what other areas should be considered?
PS: If you would like to see what I charge for Social Media consulting services, please click my 2012 Social Media Consulting Rate Sheet.