Do You Need a Social Media Communications Policy?

Change. If you are drinking the Social Media Kool-Aid, then you have to accept that dealing with constant change is a given. It’s a double-edged sword: it keeps things interesting, you’ll never be bored, but on the other hand, it is a constant challenge keeping up.

Social Media is really starting to come into its own. And, as such, it’s starting to be more and more accepted in businesses where traditionally, it was met with fear. Finances, insurance, health care, all examples of businesses that wouldn’t have touched Facebook with a 10-foot-pole two years ago, are now jumping on the bandwagon.

Still, there’s a lot of caution out there. Businesses are worried about confidentiality, loss of privacy, and being flamed. One thing that may help them to feel more comfortable is a Social Media Communications Policy.

One of my favorite Social Media Communications Policies comes from the earlier days of Microsoft. It was, simply, “don’t say anything stupid” (reference: Friends with Benefits). But that might not work for everyone, so here are some ideas you might want to consider.

Who is going to be responsible for your social media? In some organizations, there is one person who manages all the social media. They may do the Twitter and Facebook postings, but blog posts might be contributed from various members of the team. The social media person would then edit and publish those posts according to their calendar. Other organizations encourage all employees to have individual Twitter accounts. In this case, employees would need to be trained on the appropriate use and etiquette of Twitter.

How Transparent are you? Authenticity and Transparency are basic tenets of Social Media. There is no trust without them, everything is built on the honour system. Many businesses, however, are understandably concerned about putting out content that reflects a negative change in their organization, or something they are struggling with, for fear it will reflect badly on them. Either way could be right, but you have to decide how deeply you are willing to go.

Nitty-Gritty: What Social Media tools will you use, and how often will you use them?

Comments Policy: what behavior is acceptable for fans posting on your Social Media sites? What comments will you delete? This needs to be posted in a place where everyone can see it.

Many organizations are still very concerned about negativity, which falls into two categories: either their customers will say something negative about them, or their employees will say something negative about them. In the first instance, the truth is, you don’t have any control over what your customers are saying about you. If they have something bad to say, they are going to say it. Isn’t it better to know so you can do something about it?

In the second instance, we’ve all heard examples of employees who have lost their jobs because of dumb stuff they’ve said through Facebook and Twitter. It is the hope that common sense prevails, but this isn’t always the case…

Resources:

What’s your Policy on Social Media?

Mashable

Nova Scotia Gov’t Social Media Policy

Creating a Social Media Policy for your Non-Profit

Canada Post’s Social Media Policy for Employees

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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