Creating a Social Media Policy

In the wake of the recent Adria Richards scandal, companies should once again be thinking very carefully about their social media policies.

What an employee can and cannot do online should be made clear from the beginning in order to minimise risk for both parties.

There’s no point in waiting for something to go wrong before you create such a policy, especially if more than one person in your company is promoting your business online or interacting with clients/customers online. Negative press can be controlled by having a clearly defined social policy.

Regardless of your company’s size, if you do have an online presence managed by more than one person, make sure you have also got a clearly defined social media policy and that employees have read it, can refer back to it and know where to find it.

To help get you started, we’ve listed a few common questions and provided a few short answers. Do let us know if we’ve missed something.

What is a social media policy?

Simply put, a social media policy is a document that outlines corporate guidelines and principles for communicating in the online world for a company’s employees.

It might include things like:

  • Acceptable behaviour online
  • A list of ethical standards
  • Audience engagement best practices
  • Guide to writing tone and style
  • A list of things employees can and cannot say
  • A non-disclosure agreement
  • Guide to image/video content that can be posted
  • Guide to admin/editing rights
  • Guide to how to represent the company outside of the work environment
  • Contact details for who to approach when there are questions

Of course, this is just a rough outline. You may have something more specific that you would like to include.

Should your company have a social media policy?

If your company has a presence on a social platform that is managed by more than 1 person, it’s a good idea to think about creating a social media policy. Plus, it’s important to cover your back should any of your employees do something that could have a detrimental effect on the company’s reputation – remember the Domino’s Pizza incident?

Social media policies are not just pertinent for companies with a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or any other social platform. They are also important if you’ve got a blog, if you are engaging with others elsewhere online, or if you are considering doing so in the future.

It is never too late to create your policy now, even if you’re well down the line and have been using social networks for a while.

Things to include in your policy:

If you’re really looking for a comprehensive list of all those things that should be included in a social media policy, take a look at Social Media Governance, a website which literally includes hundreds of social policy examples from real companies.

If you’d simply like to put a quick social policy together, take a look at Policy Tool for Social Media, which will generate a free social media policy for you based on 12 questions you will need to answer.

Make sure to get your policy looked over by your legal department though. You can never be too safe.

Can we help?

Be sure to check out our 10 Steps to Creating a Social Media Crisis Strategy. And, if you’d like us to take a look at your policy or to put one together for you, get in touch. We’ll be happy to help.