5 must haves for your social media policy

There are so many reasons to market your business using social media, not least because it gives you 24-hour, global access to your client base. It can also build a loyal community around your brand and extend your reach online.

As social media continues to evolve, some businesses are adopting a laissez-faire approach regarding social media use among employees. However, with so much at stake, many businesses are opting for the more comfortable option of establishing a clear social media policy.

In this article, we take you through the five essential elements of any social media policy.

Provide context and a clear purpose

Like any organisational policy, the document needs to clearly explain the purpose (reason for existence) and to whom it relates. In this case, it’s highly likely that your employees will have varying knowledge and experience using social media, which is why it also makes sense to clearly define the term social media and the advantages and disadvantages of using it to engage with customers.

Provide guidelines on best practice social media use

Here’s a great opportunity to provide a list of dos and don’ts, but mainly dos, so that employees understand a baseline code of conduct. This is not just a protectionist measure, it also aims to achieve a consistent “voice” across users, platforms and profiles (e.g. franchises).

Here are a few examples of social media policy guidelines (it may be useful to explain each one with more information or examples):

  • Be authorised to speak on behalf of the company
  • Be authentic, honest and transparent
  • Consider your audience (their interests, motivations, cultural sensitivities etc)
  • Respect copyright and fair use laws
  • Provide valuable content
  • Respect client confidentiality and proprietary info
  • Use good judgement
  • Take responsibility for what you post

Detail platform-specific guidelines

If you have multiple social media channels, it’s a good idea to provide platform-specific information. This could include:

  • Define the platform and audience features
  • Provide company naming conventions or profile requirements (e.g. to ensure uniformity across related businesses)
  • Assign person/role responsible for oversight
  • List useful posting tips (e.g. use specific hashtags conventions)
  • Provide examples of “good” posts

Explain what happens if a breach occurs

Here it’s up to the business to define and outline appropriate responses to any breach of your social media policy. You may decide to refer to an existing behaviour management or ICT use policy, or to leave it with the manager to act case-by-case.

Whichever way you go, remember that training and open communication may be your best bet to prevent a breach as opposed to instilling fear.

What about personal use and posting about the company?

Your employees can be the best kind of brand ambassador, as their personal posts can extend your brand’s reach even further. However, if someone posts something harmful about the company or that gives the wrong impression, it can be damaging to the business. This extends to what employees post on their personal profiles, and it’s a reality that presents the greatest challenge to businesses.

Legally speaking, employers cannot restrict anyone from commenting on a person’s work life. This doesn’t mean you don’t have rights, as you can have employees sign confidentiality provisions if appropriate.

At the very least, you should clearly define levels of appropriate personal use during work hours (if any), what monitoring of use will take place, and refer back to the consequences in the event of a breach.

iFactory knows social media

Remember that with any policy-making, you should always refer to your HR department and/or legal team to make sure everything is above board. Remember too that social media is an evolving technology, and you may want to revisit this policy more frequently than others to keep up with any changes.

We hope you found this article useful. iFactory has been working in the digital and creative space for more than ten years, so we know it pretty well. For a targeted digital marketing and social media strategy, contact iFactory today.

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