Social Media Policy – 7 Must Haves

Stay clear of common social networking pitfalls with a clear and concise Social Media policy.

Introducing a Social Media policy into your workplace is a must whether you are a small business or international organisation. It is not set in stone – it is a living and dynamic document that can be changed to suit the current virtual environment. Every strategy should be tailored to the individual requirements of the organisation and their employees. Here are 7 basic guidelines to include in your social networking procedures.

You must be authorised to speak on behalf of the company

This is a standard policy in most employee contracts that only authorised staff members can speak on behalf of the company – those allowed to comment publicly may include senior executives and a public relations manager. This has now extended to the online space where certain employees are given permission to represent the company. This should include the company’s online properties as well as when you are responding to comments/posts in the blogosphere.

Be honest and transparent in all your dealings

When posting on behalf of your company, include your real name and, when appropriate, your company name, your title and a link to your company website if possible. Do not post anonymously, using pseudonyms or false screen names. If you have an vested interest, you should disclose this. Do not post anything that is untrue, dishonest or misleading and or that could discredit your company in anyway.

Be responsible for what you write

This refers to both company social media accounts and personal accounts held by employees. Staff members need to take responsibility for what they write, and exercise good judgment and common sense. If they are responding to inflammatory or provocative comments, they should think twice before they hit the send button and escalate it to their manager if need be to put together an appropriate response.

Respect copyright laws and licensed material

If you are sharing a comment or “post” that someone has written, ensure that you are giving them the appropriate credit for their work, attribute it to the original author/source and check that you have the right to publish it. This refers to images, videos as well as other written content. Unless they are specified for public use, images should also be given the appropriate credit. If possible, link back to the original source.

Remember to protect confidential and proprietary information

In most companies, employees who share confidential or proprietary information do so at the risk of losing their job and possibly even ending up in a lawsuit – this has now expanded to a Social Media policy. Respect and maintain the confidentiality that has been entrusted to you by your company, suppliers, clients and customers. Don’t divulge or discuss proprietary information, personal details or other confidential material.

Add value to your consumers, your industry, and your business

Social Media wasn’t designed merely to be a sales funnel for your business, it was created to allow companies to bridge the distance between themselves and their clients, customers, suppliers and other relevant stakeholders. Outline suggestions and guidelines for content in your Social Media policy such as providing tips and advice, posting about industry news or new legislation, company or industry-related news and so on.

Use the company style guide

This is where you can outline the nuts and bolts of your company’s style guide for social networking so you have a consistent company tone, look and feel. Every company is different and this will depend greatly on the target market. A professional firm such as a lawyer may take a formal approach whereas a company selling alcohol may be more casual in their networking. This should be specified in your Social Media policy.

Social networking guidelines protect both your company and your employees from crossing online barriers. Some examples of policies to look at that are readily available on the internet include high-profile companies Telstra, IBM, Coca Cola and American Red Cross. To find out more about how to write a Social Media policy for your organisation, contact Social Media Works and ask to speak to one of our consultants.

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