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How-to Create a Social Media Policy

Employees can be your biggest champions of your brand or your worst nightmare. Controlling your brand and how your employees talk about your brand are an extremely important step in getting started with social media.

The first step is establishing your social media goals. Once you have your goals, you’re ready for your social media strategy. But before you roll out your strategy you need to make sure you have a social media policy in place. You can’t enforce a policy that doesn’t exist and it’s best to have one to point newbie offenders to should they accidentally violate the common sense laws.

You’ll further want a policy because unwanted, unsolicited or inappropriate comments about your brand can cause you legal trouble, negative press, or undermine any advantages you have over the competition.

How do you get started?

  1. Decide if you are going to be proactive or reactive to brand mentions online. Decide how much you will be monitoring employee comments on social media sites about your brand. Determine if you will you be engaging your customers and employees in the conversation.
  2. Create guidelines for interactions about your company on the Internet. Make it clear who can speak on behalf of the company online. Also include a confidentiality component and how those things may not be shared at any point online.
  3. Make sure your policy protects your logo or trademarks and explicitly states that they may not be used without permission from the company and this includes any blogs.
  4. Be clear that employees using corporate social media profiles must adhere to a certain tone and/or style guide for all posts, using professionalism at all times.
  5. You cannot control every single thing that your employees post, but you can include in your policy that employees add a disclaimer to their bio or to their post that the views and opinions stated herein are their own and not those of your company.
  6. Be explicit in which online tools are considered social media tools.
  7. Put someone in charge of managing and implementing social media corporate profiles. Make that person/team responsible for monitoring your brand on social media.
  8. Consider offering workshops or training to employees who want to engage in social media and making it mandatory that they attend at least one training on the ground-rules.
  9. Be sure to include in your policy what the repercussions are for breach of the policy.
  10. Make it mandatory that everyone sign and acknowledge the social media policy (in states where applicable.)
Some sample social media policies online are: Telstra, IBM, and Reuters
And if you want some quick help on creating a social media policy, check out Social Media Policy Tool and answer 12 easy questions and you’ll have yourself a social media policy in less than 10 minutes that you can copy and paste into a word document and modify if necessary.
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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.