CYA: The Importance of Having a Social Media Policy

Do you own a business or run an organization? Do you have any aspect of marketing that is online on social media websites? If you answered yes, then you need a social media policy. The last thing any organization needs is an event to happen and then want to not have a plan to deal with an issue, having to fire and employee, and getting sued. CYA: Cover Your A$$.

With the growth of technology, many organizations, for profit and non-profit, have become more available to the customers via social media. As a benefit, the customer gets to hear from many different people within the organization: CEO’s, staff members,

Photo credit: Gini Dietrich

and community managers, and sometimes other customers! This is a great way to get customers to buy in to the brand by feeling informed and a part of the team. However, with so many people posting and commenting on a page, the organization can run the risk of muddying the water; with all these different ideals on one page, how does one maintain the message and brand is being portrayed the way designed? Your organization can avoid confusion if there is a written policy or set of guidelines that will help regulate what is on the page. But before you can think about guidelines, you have to be sure that your entire team is supportive of your overall social media goals. What are you trying to achieve? What do you hope to gain by a social media initiative? Who do you want to reach? Who do you want to communicate with? Do you want to create conversations with existing customers or also prospective customers? Do you have experts who are able to contribute regular blog posts or comments to make sure content is correct and current? How will you measure success, and what metrics will you use?

With these questions discussed and answered, it’s time to consider the policy. Some key elements to include are:

  • Which Employees Will Post (community manager, certain department, overall ownership).
  • Content Schedule (what specific content will be posted on which site)
  • Time Schedule for Posting (hourly, daily, weekly – and on which sites).
  • Crisis Plan – External (i.e., how to respond to negative comments about the company).
  • Crisis Plan – Internal (i.e., how to respond if personal gripes by employees appear, etc.).
  • Photos (i.e., how company photos will be used because some employees may not want their photos to appear on social sites. A release waiver should be provided for this).
  • Be Aware of Copyright Infringement (do not steal images from the Internet, but give credit when it is due).
  • Find Experts (if the person who is responding to posts doesn’t have the expertise to answer a question or comment, find the appropriate person).
  • Official Voice (i.e., friendly, conversational, or formal).
  • No sensitive or confidential business data should be shared via social media channels.
  • SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE (have employees sign the waiver stating they agree with the statements for records).

Since I will be working with UWSP, I thought to also check out their social media policy. Some takeaways from that that aren’t already mentioned are:

  • Be thoughtful This in reference to being appropriate online. When dealing with the University, you are posting in behalf of them and their brand.
  • Know the rules for other social media sites. Don’t post videos with copyrighted songs without permission.
  • Beware of app permissions and updates.

Resources:
http://www.steamfeed.com/important-social-media-policy/
http://spinsucks.com/social-media/fourteen-social-media-policy-must-haves/
http://www.uwsp.edu/urc/sm/Pages/postForUWSP.aspx

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1 Comment

  1. CYA – OK, that pulled me right into reading this post and was please that the content supported the theory of the title. Very well written – not too much detail to over write a HR policy – and just enough information that employees should understand that their actions or non actions can enhance or hurt the brand.

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