Your company’s social media can be like keeping a wild animal for a pet. You can tame it, sure. Manage it. Control it. But its wild side is still there. Lurking. Waiting to spring out of your control and bite you. Which side of this tamed wild animal you see depends on the strength of your company’s social media policy.
Employees are potentially a huge asset to your social media efforts. They can be a built-in army of company evangelists. Or they can run amok and cause PR nightmares through their social media accounts.
What Is a Social Media Policy?
A social media policy is a living document guiding employees’ social media interactions regarding your company. Some companies choose to regulate employees’ personal social media posts as well.
The purpose of the document is two-fold. First, it sets ground rules for employees regarding how to discuss the company, and its products and services. The idea is that the document helps you manage and protect your company’s reputation and brand. The policy may detail taboo subjects, or “internal only” topics that shouldn’t be discussed publicly.
This policy direction helps management avoid PR nightmares, or perhaps disclosure of information about upcoming products or initiatives. The ground rules also might cover employees’ personal conduct, because their behavior reflects on the company. “No political posts”, for example.
The policy also encourages employees to evangelize your products and services through social media. Whether you have two employees or 20,000, they are potentially a source of free advertising and sales leads as they write positively about your company.
What’s Included in a Social Media Policy?
There are no set rules for this document. Each policy is as unique as the company it regulates. To get the document started, here are some points to cover in your policy. But keep in mind, this is a high-level list. It’s not intended to be all-inclusive.
- Avoid discussing internal policies or confidential information
- Don’t reveal company finances
- Do not leak details of upcoming product releases
- Use the company’s voice when posting about the company
- Avoid posts or groups that include hate speech
- Political posts
- Posts that include violence or nudity
- Images or discussions about drugs or alcohol
Implement your Social Media Policy
It’s important to remember your policy isn’t “set it and forget it”. This is a living document that must be updated regularly. Social media changes often… new platforms, new rules, new laws that affect social, etc. So, your document must be kept current. And you must enforce your employees’ usage of the policy.
Make your document is accessible to all employees, and ensure they know where and how to access the document. Make at least one person on your social media or PR team available as a point person for questions and feedback. Also, assign at least one person in management to enforce policy violations.
Don’t Wait to Get Bitten
Just like a wild animal kept as a pet, your company’s reputation on social media will remain tamed.
Until it doesn’t.
According to Pew Research, 30 percent of companies have a social media policy in place. But 77 percent of adults say they use social media. That’s a recipe for a PR disaster. (I’m looking at you, Taco Bell.)
Don’t wait until social media bites your company’s reputation and brand. Use this post as a start to create a social media policy. Check out our next post on this topic as we present part two of why and how to create a social media policy. We’ll discuss more on how to implement your policy internally throughout your company.