Why Social Media Policies Matter!
Social media is fast becoming not just a marketing strategy, but for a wide variety of companies and organization, it’s also a position or department description. If your goal is to increase social media effectiveness, efficiency, and success, creating and implementing a relevant social media policy can be an important yet overlooked element. Crafting a policy can help organize, streamline, and unify social media efforts between team members. Thoughtful policies combined with strong strategy help businesses and organizations transform their social media efforts from last minute promotions and unfocused communications into marketing efforts that produces results.
Different Types of Social Media Policies
Employee and Staff Social Media Use Policies
The first type of social media policy many businesses and organizations of all sizes are implementing is related to staff and employee behavior across social media sites. These types of policies are common, and many companies and non-profits require all staff members (full and part time) to sign off on these policies when they are hired. Policies of this nature often refer to the business’s values, ethics, confidentiality agreements, and human resource policies. A good example of a policy like this can be found at Best Buy. The Best Buy Social Media Policy starts with the following introduction:
“Be smart. Be respectful. Be human.”
“Guidelines for functioning in an electronic world are the same as the values, ethics and confidentiality policies employees are expected to live every day, whether you’re Tweeting, talking with customers or chatting over the neighbor’s fence. Remember, your responsibility to Best Buy doesn’t end when you are off the clock. For that reason, this policy applies to both company sponsored social media and personal use as it relates to Best Buy.”
Best Buy continues to clearly outline what staff and employees SHOULD DO and what they SHOULD NEVER DISCLOSE when using social media personally or professionally.
They close out the policy with the following statements:
“Basically, if you find yourself wondering if you can talk about something you learned at work — don’t. Follow Best Buy’s policies and live the company’s values and philosophies. They’re there for a reason.”
“Remember: protect the brand, protect yourself.”
Best Buy’s policy also include a number of references and links to other important company policies such as the Customer Information Policies, Information Security Policy, Code of Business Ethics, Confidentiality Policy, Policy Against All Forms of Harassment, and more.
Marketing and Communications Social Media Policies
The second kind of social media policy typically created is one that relates to marketing and communications. These types of policies outline the content strategy, tracking, evaluation, and network growth including:
- how the organization or business is using social media
- who is engaged in representing the organization or business and what to do when people change position or leave the business or organization
- how social media will be integrated with the overall marketing plan and efforts
- what tracking systems will be in place and when reports will be provided
- goals for network growth, engagement, and conversion
These policies often take more time and contain higher levels of detail about what kind of content will be developed, which staff members manage and approve content, what social sites are appropriate, and long term plans for social media development. A great example of a policy that clearly outlines all level of social media involvement is the Social Media Guide for the American Institute of Architects.
The AIA actually has an entire section of their website dedicated to social media policies, expectations, and protocols. They very clearly outline the following aspects of their social media plan:
Social Media Channels – what social accounts are being used and how are they being used.
Team-Related Subaccounts – guidelines for how team members can manage on their own social media presence.
Create Your Own Social Media Policy in 5 Simple Steps
If your business or organization wants to create its own social media policy, you can begin by following these simple steps:
- Define what kind of social media policies you need in place.
- Research policies online and learn how other organization and businesses organize and monitor their social media efforts. A great resource for this is the social media policy section of SocialMediaGovernance.com. This easy-to-use policy sample section lets site visitors view social media policies from B2C companies, B2B companies, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, healthcare organizations, academic institutions, and other more general guides and templates.
- Start an outline of your policy and list the ethics, guidelines, and protocols that are most important for your team.
- Share your outline with the appropriate team members, and get feedback about what needs to be added or edited.
- Finalize the policy, and complete whatever needs to be done to put it into practice. Get relevant staff members and employees to sign off on the policy.
Good luck developing your company or organization social media policy!
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