ComposeEvery company should have a social media policy. It doesn’t have to be too long but a good policy can really help guide staff and prevent your brand getting caught up in something they shouldn’t on Twitter!

Even if you hire an agency to run your social media you should have a policy in place so you can sleep easy knowing they are presenting a great image for your brand.

The main goal of any social media policy should be to lay out some ground rules and make sure everyone is batting for the same team. You also want to include some information on what to do when it all goes very wrong.

Every business will be different and you’ll need to design a policy to meet your needs but here’s a few must-have topics for your shiny new policy!

Why do you use social media?

Decide what your main goals of using social media are and write them down. It could be a number of goals like, generating sales and leads, recruitment or branding. Once you have the goals in place everyone will understand what’s expected from your social media.

Also make a point of including a phrase about it being “about work”. Social media is social and its very easy to slip away from a business attitude to a social one. Even if you are very light-hearted, chatty and easy going on social media it should still be “about work”.

What can you say? Set limits.

speakerEven though the main point of social media is to be social there still has to be limits on the standard of posts and language used. Can you say crap? Are political posts allowed? Do you re-tweet charities?

Make sure you also include a section about never divulging customer, confidential, financial information about the business. There is a good chance your competition are monitoring your staff’s social media accounts.

A large part of your social media strategy maybe re-tweeting information you think your users will find interesting but it can sometimes lead to problems especially if its political or based on a current news item. Play safe and write some short guidelines on what’s acceptable giving a couple of examples on what can’t be shared.

Describe limits and restrictions on behaviour and wording so everyone knows where the line is drawn.

Describe your social media attitude

Write down the way you want be portrayed on social media so all staff know what style to write in. I’m not talking individual personalities but a general attitude.

You may want to keep it all business, be very social or even a bit funny. Creating a policy for your broadcast style will help to keep your main branding focused.

Personal social media accounts

Decide if you want staff to mention they work for you on their Twitter & Facebook profiles. As soon as they do they are, to a certain extent, representing you and “views are my own” may not always cut it.

You may want to ask staff to create a separate “professional profile” so all work related tweets go out on this and the coffee, pizza and late night bar photo’s stay on the personal account. If you go down this route you’ll need to talk about ownership of the account and decide if you want it shut down when the member of staff leaves.

Password policy

PadlockMake sure that every member of staff understands that social media passwords are confidential business data and shouldn’t be given to anyone without approval from managers.

Develop a policy of when passwords will change and who has access to the passwords. The person with top responsibility for social media should have a spreadsheet that includes who has passwords to what services and when those passwords were last changed.

Disciplinary process

Update your companies disciplinary policy to include social media.

There have been many enormous mistakes made on Social Media and brands have been hurt by un-compassionate, rude or offensive Tweets and posts so you must have a procedure in place to deal with these.

Talk to a HR expert and get social media built into your companies formal disciplinary process.

Disaster Recovery

Detail the steps you want to take when something goes wrong. Who needs to be contacted, what meetings need to be called and how do you respond to problems.

You may want to say nothing, have a meeting and discuss a response or you may want to react instantly and decisively. Make sure all staff are clear on the process and they know who’s in charge.

Conclusion

There are many topics that could be included in your policy so everyone knows what the crack is with the company social media accounts. The topics above are must-have’s but please don’t take this as legal advice! Check things out with HR or a good lawyer first.

If you want to learn how to take your social media to the next level then checkout my Social Media For Business Training day and claim a free tips pack by signing up to my mailing list.