6 Tips on How to Craft a Social Media Policy

Posted by Zachary Schewee

Jan 4

Social media has undoubtedly become a big part of everyday lives. Not only with the people roaming the streets but also for companies everywhere. Social media is playing a bigger and bigger role and how they can engage the public and not only engage but draw them in as potential customers. Insights can be gained through these various platforms that can be very useful tools.

But how does a company go about engaging customers and what is it exactly that they should say or how to communicate certain messages? This is a problem companies face and with information having the ability to spread like wild fire on social media, having the right policies in place can play a crucial if not be considered critical part to retaining brand image.

Here are 6 tips to consider when crafting a social media policy for a company.

1) What value does it bring? 

With new social media sites being launched daily its important to asses which of these sites actually brings value to the company. Determining which site has certain features or functions that would prove useful is essential. You need to evaluate social media sites to determine the relevance and unique risk associated with sites used by employees whether that’s on their own time or at the work environment. Do these sites play into your business strategy? All these things need to be considered and determined throughout the process.

2) Collaborate

Bring everyone into the conversation. These policies shouldn’t be only drawn out and discussed only by top-level executives. You can’t expect to win an NBA championship solely riding the star of the team; there are 4 other guys on the floor and players off the bench who contribute and play critical roles on this path to success.

Departments to include could be:

  • Legal
  • HR
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • IT

Everyone should be included if not at least heard out with what sites should be used, how to talk about the company and what standards everyone should be held to. You could have IT block particular sites or have certain filters in place. Get everyone’s viewpoint on the subject as this could lead to interesting insights/ideas/problems/solutions that previously were not thought about or considered.

3) To “Say” or “Not to Say”

Once you’ve established what social media sites can provide value to the company, the next step at hand would be to determine what should be said and what shouldn’t be said on these platforms. There needs to be a policy in place that employees need to strictly follow if they choose to engage in social media in any way. For example being transparent and using caution when identifying yourself as a company employee could be something to mention in the policy. This is not your company; you’re not a mind reader that can determine everyone’s thoughts, so by no means should you comment on behalf of the company. Don’t get cute and start up accounts on behalf of the company because you think that you can be of service or help.  Make sure to always check into social media at client sites and gain approval before posting anything. Another useful tool would be to produce a guideline with explanations of what should/shouldn’t be said and how to maintain a certain company’s style and voice while interacting on these platforms.

4) Hacker Heaven

Security becomes a big issue when discussing a social media policy. These sites are prime breeding places for hackers and in a fair amount of cases these hackers are based overseas which at the point both companies and the United States can do very little about these breaches due to jurisdiction.  With social sites allowing you to post photos, video and audio, employees may without knowing, leak confidential company information. This would be considered data leakage and can cause serious harm to any company.  Systems need to be in place to prevent or mitigate these leakages. Understanding your company and customizing a security solution is an essential piece to the social media policy and heavy emphasis should be place upon it.  On top of this you must educate your employees what they can discuss or post to public blogs, forums, forms, etc. A lot of sensitive information is available to the public.

This information would include:

  • Dump files
  • Log data
  • Network diagrams
  • Configuration files
  • User names and passwords

With so much data available to the public it can only be a matter of time before it gets into the wrong hands. Say employees do post or discuss things in the public eye these posts should be monitored to watch carefully at what is being said. With data theft being big in today’s world it is important to check the systems in place and double check every little detail so leakages and breaches can be minimized. It doesn’t take much for a hacker to ruin a company’s image.

5) Lawyer Up

Pretty simple and logical step here. Have a lawyer review the entire policy. A lawyer can sniff out any potential problems and cross check with all existing policies to make sure the social media policy isn’t contradictory in any fashion. Can also check if they’re specific state laws a company has to abide by. Another key factor to have a lawyer check everything over is to not run into trouble with the NLRB or The National Labor Relations Board. If interested in learning more about the NLRB and everything that they do click here. In particular though they’ve been cracking down on companies who they deem as violating employee rights to discuss their working conditions. So a lawyer can keep you away from dealing with the big guns.

6) Distribute & Update

Make sure that when the policy is finally finished that it doesn’t just disappear and employees never see or talk about it again. Encourage current employees to become familiar with the policy, have it resonate throughout the workforce and become second nature to the employees.  Have the employees sign off on the policy so that there are no discrepancies down the road if any trouble were to arise. Maybe even administer a small test to check if it was actually read or not but every company is different. Also keep employees up to date on any changes in the future. Lastly once this policy is written you need to review and update when needed. We live in a fast pace environment and changes are happening around us everyday. Modify when needed and always make sure to keep it an ongoing collaborative process.

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Topics: Social Media Policy

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