policy-signsWhen a company develops a social media strategy, social media policy isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, there are many reasons why it should be. As a manager, you should ensure that a social media policy or guidelines are established before the execution of a social media marketing plan. Social media policy will create a clear outline of how you expect employees to behave on social media sites as well as set constructive boundaries for online users.

A Social media policy will clarify what is and is not appropriate on your company’s social media properties like Facebook, Twitter and Google +. It should also explain what the consequences will be and what actions your company will take if someone doesn’t follow the guidelines.

#1: Explain Why You Have a Social Media Policy

Introduce the purpose of a social media policy whether it is developed for employees or for an online community. Your policy should discuss why social media marketing is important and how core values are applied in the online social media space. When a company acts in a transparent, respectful, and responsible way on social media sites, it provides more credibility and builds trust between the company and its online community.

#2: Define What Your Social Media Policy Should Include

When drafting a social media policy, as a preliminary step you should define what it should contain. Should it be as detailed as possible or leave it more general? Do you want to deal with as many cases as possible describing a code of conduct for each individual social media channel including Facebook, Twitter, and blogging? Or do you want to keep it more general referring to “social media”?

#3: Remind Employees to Respect Copyright and Protect Confidential Info

Honor the privacy of your employees as well as customers. Explain why an employee has an obligation to protect the copyright, confidential, proprietary and trade secret information.

#4: Clarify Consequences of Violations

Your company has the right to protect its reputation and confidential information in the social media space. In order to avoid surprises and confusion when an employee shares inappropriate content that could damage the company’s reputation or a user leaves an off-topic comment on your company’s Facebook page, you should keep your employees and online community informed of the risks involved. The most recent social media disasters where people got fired for things they said on Facebook or Twitter show the need for the social media marketing policy as an integral part of company’s existing policies.

#5: Make Your Social Media Policy Engaging and Positive

It is hard to make sure that all employees read guidelines, but a 3-minute educational video might help. Your social media marketing or legal department can send out an email with a video embedded in it. Here is a great example of engaging video that clearly explains the most important points of the social media policy at UPS.

Rather than setting boundaries and restrictions, it discusses in a positive way the importance of social media marketing in the company.

Bonus: Great examples of existing social media policies:

LCBO Social Media Policy: http://www.lcbo.com/terms/social/

Walmart Social Media Policy: http://corporate.walmart.com/social-media-guidelines

Best Buy Social Media Policy: http://forums.bestbuy.com/t5/Welcome-News/Best-Buy-Social-Media-Policy/td-p/20492

iRISEmedia is a Digital Media agency specialized in social media marketing and online branding. Our team helps clients increase their reach and profitability by developing a customized and targeted social media  strategy. We service clients in Toronto, Ontario and throughout Canada as well as globally.