What exactly is a social media policy? Does your organisation need one?
How do you put one together and what the heck goes into it?
Stick the word ‘policy’ into the name of a document and you’ll find most eyes and ears prick up.
“Oh – this is something important and official”’ your employees say.
So it can seem a daunting task to create one.
Panic not, we’ve got your questions covered, and examples to share with you.
What is a social media policy? What is its purpose?
Afterall, the term policy can be defined as a deliberate set of guidelines to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes.
A social media policy is guidance and instruction for your teams* so they know what they can and can’t say about the organisation on social media. We’re not talking brand guidelines or tone of voice.
We’re referring to social media profiles of individuals or any public domain where they post content and could potentially talk about the organisation.
Social media platform profiles are the obvious ones, but blogging sites and comment sections online are others.
The whole purpose of having a social media policy is to manage how people represent your company/brand online… as best you can!
Clearly you can’t police everything that gets said about you online, but you can empower your people to go about it in the right way and protect them (and you!) from sharing information that is incorrect, offensive or top secret.
Why did we put an asterisk on ‘teams’?
You may need to think wider than your direct reports and internal colleagues. Your social media policy might also apply to external contractors or agencies that you work with.
Do you need a one?
Is it something you’re legally obliged to have?
No. But it is good practice to have one in place.
It could prevent a lot of heartache and stress in the future.
You don’t want to waste your precious time approving every single post an employee wants to share nor trawl through social media platforms to police and spot check what’s been published.
What a drain on resources and energy!
Having a social media policy acknowledges that your teams will post about the organisation online and gives them the parameters in which to do that in a safe manner.
You could argue that the value of having a social media policy in place is higher for organisations with a large number of employees, but in reality as soon as there’s a few of you, it would be useful to have.
What should you include in a social media policy?
It depends on what level of guidance you want to give.
You might simply want to give everyone some common sense guidance to suggest they don’t post anything that could potentially damage the brand or cause harm to a colleague.
Some companies might adopt a more authoritative approach which suggests if there’s any consequences for breaching the social media policy – but we’re not HR experts so we won’t delve deeper on that.
You can go as big or as compact as you like.
There is such a variety out there but if you Google [company name] social media policy it’ll most likely come up trumps.
Perfect if you want to snoop on the competition!
But as we’re kind and thoughtful and know as a comms professional that you’ve got a growing to do list and minimal time to spare… here’s some of our favourite examples:
- Suffolk Council social media policy
- Chard Town Council social media policy
- Tesco social media policy (page 60)
- Met Police social media policy
Bringing it together
As with anything that you want your teams to fully get behind and use it, so our best advice is to involve them in the creation of your social media policy.
Ask them what they think would be useful to know and include.
How do they want the company to be perceived online?
What opportunities are there for this policy to encourage fandom and advocacy for your brand?
How can you ensure it supports your audience and your staff and stakeholders?
If you have enough people, create a working group that represents the various teams and departments across the company.
You do not have to write it in isolation and take all the responsibility on your shoulders!
Don’t wait for it to be perfect either.
It should be a working document so get it to a point, hit publish and put it into action.
Have a plan for communicating it with your current team and those who join the company further down the line.
If people don’t know about it, they can’t use it.
Keep your policy alive – don’t let it gather dust!
Think of just how much social media platforms have grown and transformed over the last decade.
Your social media policy shouldn’t be published and filed away.
It should be a living, breathing document that grows with the times and your business.
Make a date to review it.
Maybe bring in a new cohort of workers to take a fresh look and check if the advice is still relevant and applicable.
Still unsure? Feeling overwhelmed? We’ve got you!
When it comes to all things social media, Comms Creatives have absolutely got your back!
If the thought of writing your brand’s policy is a bit daunting, don’t worry, you won’t be the first to have felt that way.
It’s one of the reasons why we created our Social Media Strategy Course.
Often the social media policy is just the tip of the iceberg and you realise it needs to be part of a wider social media strategy.
This course is ideal for you if you’re looking to
- Set a clear and clever roadmap that helps your brand become a leader own social media
- Make your brand’s social media more creative and effective
- Learn how to write a social media strategy without it feeling overwhelming
- Develop your strategic expertise and become a confident social media expert
The course takes place over two days (session one in April and session two in May). You get the replays, resources and templates in your course library, and you’ll learn and take inspiration for a small group of communications and marketing professionals taking the course.
Book to join us in April and get cracking!