7 Tips for Creating a Social Media Policy

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Social media is expanding with millions of people worldwide interacting before, during and after work. While social media is an extraordinary communications’ tool, employers can’t help but wonder what employees are discussing on social media during work hours—and even when they’re off the clock.

It’s important that employees understand the impact they have on your brand, as well as their personal brand, when socializing online. The ramifications can be costly, resulting in job loss, forced resignations and legal action.

It’s up to brands to ensure they’ve implemented a social media policy, so that nothing is left up to interpretation and everything is clearly outlined. Here,  S. Lynn Cooper outlines what you should consider when creating your brand’s social media policy:

What constitutes social media?

While Twitter and LinkedIn may easily be categorized as social media, what about YouTube? What about a personal blog? Your social media policy must have a concrete definition, including the various platforms the guidelines apply to.

Who’s responsible?

The best way to find a social media advocate within the company is to seek out the person or team of people who are most passionate about communicating with customers online. Seek those people out and provide them with the training needed to represent your brand.

Content Ownership

Does your brand have a YouTube page, Twitter account, or Facebook fan page? Your brand needs to confirm that the ownership of these social media accounts belongs to the brand, not the staffer whose current job entails monitoring the company’s online presence.

Privacy rights

Due to the casual nature of social media, it’s easy to give away proprietary information without realizing it. Since each social media platform has its own imperfections, it’s best to instruct employees never to share any confidential or proprietary information via their corporate or personal profiles.

Establish ground rules

You must allow your employees the right to engage on social media, but, of course, you want to protect your brand at the same time.  Since this can be a very touchy subject, consider contacting your legal counsel when formulating your policy.

Provide training

If you expect your employees to utilize social networking tools properly, you must provide training. Keep in mind what they post online is also a reflection of your brand.

Create a checks-and-balance system

A social media policy will not do your brand any justice if you don’t actually monitor the networks where dialogue is taking place.  There are plenty of tools to monitor social media (read “4 Tools to Help You Become a Savvy Social Listener”).

S. Lynn Cooper is a Washington, DC-based digital strategist and communications expert. Cooper is the founder and director of Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency that specializes in the creation of social and digital strategies and campaign management. Follow her on Twitter at @sociallyahead.

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