I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about social media and strategies for you to grow your presence on social media. It’s an essential part of any content marketing strategy. If you’re the only one running that social media account, it’s very easy to handle what your company does and does not put out on your social media platforms. However, as your business grows, you may want to delegate that job to someone else. That’s when a company’s social media policy comes into play.

 

What is a Social Media Policy?

A social media policy is a set of guidelines and best practices for your employees to use on your social media accounts.

If you don’t have a social media policy in place, your employees may post something that is not in line with your company values. They may even post something illegal.

A social media policy is essential for protecting your brand and your business as a whole.

 

Crafting a Social Media Policy

According to Sprout Social, every social media policy should include rules about the following:

· Sharing proprietary or confidential information.

· Posting defamatory, derogatory, or inflammatory content.

· Posting information or pictures that imply illegal content.

Not only does this protect your brand, but it also protects you legally.

 

Designate Specific Users for Social Media

Not every employee should have access to your social media accounts. Having too many people with access can only lead to problems down the road. Instead, choose one or two reliable, mature, and responsible employees or create a team of trustworthy employees that will be allowed to post.

Keep all other employees off your social media accounts. This is as much for their protection as it is for yours.

 

Create Posting Guidelines for Employees to Follow & Then Train Your Employees

All employees should be on the same page when it comes to what the company stands for. They also need to understand the story the social media accounts tell. Make sure that your employees are trained in how to talk about your company, its services, and the products you offer.

Every one of your posts should have the same tone or attitude. The default is respectful and polite. However, some companies have made the conscious choice to be a little snarky. That’s okay if the person making those comments is mature enough to think about the impact each comment has before it’s posted. Going the snarky route requires a lot of trust in your employees. Make sure you take the decision seriously.

In most cases, respectful and polite is the best way to go.

The guidelines should also include rules about what can and cannot be shared on social media. What’s happening internally isn’t always for the public’s consumption.

You should also include some general guidelines about what are and are not good sources for facts. If I tweet out a headline from the satirical website The Onion people may call into question my reliability. However, if I tweet out a link to a news agency like The New York Times, it’s much more believable. All social media posters for your company must understand the difference between a reliable source and one that’s questionable.

 

Have a Plan to Deal with Criticism and Negativity

Inevitably, someone will offer a bad review or a negative tweet about your company. This happens to everyone. But how you deal with it is essential. It’s important to make the customer feel heard without attacking him or her or taking offense.

One of the jobs of a social media manager is to respond to messages, tweets, etc. That person must know how to keep their cool. This is true even when they feel insulted. They must know how to politely respond when a disparaging comment is made. All interactions between company employees and customers remain professional.

Outline a plan for your employees so they have a way to deal with criticism and negativity before it arises.

 

Clearly Outline Consequences for Breaking the Social Media Posting Rules

Employees must know ahead of time that there are repercussions for posting inappropriate social media content. They must know they’ll be held accountable for their actions.

Create rules and consequences for breaking those rules. Once created clearly outline the consequences for your employees. This will prevent confusion if or when you need to enforce the rules.

 

Frequently Update and Revise Your Social Media Policy

Social media platforms and the expectations on those social media platforms are constantly changing. Make sure you review your social media policy every three to six months. You want to make sure that it still applies to your vision for the company. Plus shows what you expect from your social media accounts.

 

Hold Frequent Training and Refresher Courses on the Company Social Media Policy

When you do make changes to your social media policy, make sure those changes are immediately conveyed to your employees.

If you do not make changes, you should still hold annual training on the company’s social media policy. Be sure the rules are clearly outlined in employees’ minds.

 

Employee Social Media Policy

Make sure that you have a social media policy that applies to how your employees behave on their social media accounts. Your employees must understand what’s expected of them. This is true on both personal and professional social media accounts. You cannot censure employees for their posts. However, you can inform employees that any posts that reflect poorly on the business can result in immediate termination or other disciplinary action.

Lastly, make sure your social media policy for both personal and business accounts is available for your employees to access at any point. Encourage them to ask questions if they have any. This will eliminate confusion down the road.

We are all trying to improve our social media presence. For those of you looking to gain more Instagram followers, check out this previous post.

 

Written by Erika Towne