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Creating a Company Wide Social Media Policy

Social media is in full flight these days, and companies are scrambling to figure out the best ways to use the channel to engage prospects, without having to devote a significant amount of bandwidth to do so. Companies both large and small are actively trying to use social media to increase their brand awareness and build their online presence.

Despite all the hype surrounding the fluidity and casualness of social media these days, rules still apply when it comes to managing your social media campaigns. Having a formal social media policy in place protects your company, empowers your team by providing structure, and sets guidelines so that your team knows how to respond quickly during a social media crisis.

Today, less than 12% of companies have a formal social media policy in place. Here are 6 tips to help you create a company wide social media policy.

  1. Define ownership. Anyone can post socially, but not everyone should. Decide who can post about your company, and how they can. Are there certain times of day they should post? What are they allowed to post about? How many times a day should they post? Social media can be a great tool for your sales team, but typically it’s best to limit the number of people that can officially post about your company to avoid diluting your brand. Most of the time, having “official” company accounts that people can visit for an official point of view or statement does this. Separating company and personal accounts also allows other members of your team to post about your company from their own accounts.
  2. Set parameters around dialogue. What, when, where, and how? Are employees allowed to comment about your company online? Are they required to identify themselves as company employees if they do post online? What are they allowed to talk about? More importantly what are they NOT allowed to talk about (financials? product launches that haven’t been released yet?)? Most of the time, your company’s confidentiality agreement can also be used for social media guidelines.
  3. Be transparent. Require employees to identify themselves as just that if they are going to comment or post about your organization online. This prevents confusion and misrepresentation, and protects your brand. While it is tempting to use your employees to do things like leave reviews or testimonials about your product online, once word gets out about the false information, your reputation could be irrevocably damaged.
  4. Make protection your policy. Do not allow employees to post anything that might be shared and viewed negatively. Derogatory or argumentative statements can hurt your reputation both online and offline and should be avoided at all costs.
  5. Be honest. Social media is a great channel for communicating past errors or mistakes and owning them. Use your social media accounts to show that you’ve listened to your customers and are correcting any past mistakes. Do not edit any past posts without noting that you have done so.
  6. Plan for a crisis. The availability and ease that the social media channel provides is a double-edged sword. On one hand it allows for instant feedback and dialogue with prospects, but on the other, it makes it very easy for detractors to post negatively about your organization. Plan what steps to take when your company is mentioned in social media, both positively and negatively.