Many organizations and industries are realizing the importance of engaging on social media platforms, but fear the potential consequences if things go wrong. Though this concern is not completely unfounded, fear is not a good reason to avoid engaging in a sound social media campaign. One way to reinforce your efforts with digital marketing and ensure you are on solid foundation is to create a company social media policy to guide the actions of all participants.
Social Media Policy Guidelines
Here are some guidelines to help you develop a strong social media policy for your organization:
1. Establish the audience for the policy - Is it geared toward staff, independent consultants, managers, customers, social media consultants?
2. Determine who is responsible for overseeing the policy adherence as well as who will be interacting with the social media platforms and if there is any position that should not interact on the platforms.
3. For those who are authorized to interact on the platforms, make a clear distinction between business and personal use. For example, is it acceptable for your employees to comment on the business Facebook page from their personal Facebook accounts (if so, their personal setting should be private to ensure their personal security).
4. Establish the purpose of the policy in an introductory statement. You might want to say something like, “This social media policy is designed to ensure our company’s professional integrity, positive culture, and superior products/services are reflected in a manner consistent with our mission”. This makes it clear to the reader that you are serious about creating a positive online presence and holding people accountable for contradictory behavior.
5. Determine if you will have one company social media presence and all of your staff, sales people, contractors, and others will interact on those platforms. It may make sense to empower and encourage those who work on commission to form their own online presence under the umbrella of your company. This will afford them the opportunity to build their unique audience and work their platforms for the greatest impact on their client base and prospects.
6. Linkedin is designed to be an individual professional platform. Though companies may have a distinct presence on Linkedin, people utilizing the platform are there as individuals. For continuity of company messaging, you may want to include in the policy that employees and contractors use the official position description when identifying their role with your company on Linkedin.
7. Set the criteria for interaction on the platforms. You may want the following expectations:
A. Be positive
B. Use good judgement and be professional - including correct spelling and grammar
C. If you are uncertain about posting or commenting on something, ask
D. Build an appropriate audience, connecting to other professionals and referral sources
E. Do Not connect with (Like, Follow, etc.) any controversial or provocative site unless it is a pertinent to your industry
F. Always post appropriately so the author of the content is properly attributed (never plagiarize or reflect content as your own that you did not write)
G. Respect the confidentiality of others - don't post pictures or identifying information of your clients without their expressed consent
H. Follow the tenants of inbound marketing best practices, such as don’t over-promote and offer your audience content of value
8. Develop a plan for dealing with negative comments. In most industries this is rare, but your people should know how to handle it if/when it happens. Decide if you want them to report it and to whom, respond to it and how, and resolve the issue themselves or pass it on to someone else to handle.
9. Respect the privacy of your customers/clients. Do not post images of them or reference your work with them without their expressed written consent.
10. Tailor the policy to your unique organization and industry. If there are specific Do’s and Don’ts, compliance issues, and industry requirements, make sure to include those specifically in the policy.
Inbound marketing companies, like Social Media Maxima, help organizations develop a clear and effective social media policy so everyone is on the same page when it comes to social networking. Contact us if you would like help setting up your company policy.