How to Create A Social Media Policy (with template)
Social media is one of the most popular online activities. Over 4 billion people use social media worldwide, so it should be part of your digital marketing strategy. But we also know that sometimes some weird or downright bad things can happen on social media. So how do you protect your business from the negative impact that employees may have on your social media accounts? You’ll need to create a social media policy for your company.
Setting up social media guidelines for your employees is also a good idea. I bet you’re thinking, “what’s the difference?” Your social media policy sets rules and consequences if the rules are broken. Your social media guidelines are more of a teaching tool for your employees. Social media guidelines can help employees act in your company’s best interest while online, like a handbook or other training materials. Some topics to consider including in your social media guidelines:
- Copyright infringement
- Proper use of company logo
- Protecting confidential company and client information
- Social media code of conduct
- Use of social media during work hours or on work equipment
What is a social media policy?
Your social media policy is an official document that defines the expectations and consequences for your team’s social media use. It will need to include your business’s social media channels and your employee’s use of social media, professionally and personally. It applies to every employee, from part-time to full-time, entry-level employees all the way up to the CEO. No exceptions. It can be part of your social media plan or included in your onboarding documents for new hires. You can also make it part of an annual review to keep policies fresh in everyone’s minds.
Why do you need a social media policy?
You need a social media policy to define and implement disciplinary actions up to and including firing someone for damaging your brand. This is vital to protecting the image of your business that you worked so hard to build. It can also reduce legal and security risks. And you can guide your employees on what they can share on their personal and professional social media channels. Here are a few other ways a social media policy can help your business:
- Keep things consistent. Whether you have a social media manager or your employees work together to manage social media accounts, your social media policy can help you maintain your brand across multiple channels.
- Protect your business from legal issues. With a clear policy in place, you can avoid employees offering up confidential information, whether it is business or customer related. Protecting your business by restricting the sharing of confidential information is vital to an effective social media policy.
- Clear the way for inclusion and diversity. You can define your expectations for your employees, both upholding free speech and holding people accountable for hate speech or bullying.
- Define the responsibilities of your employees on social media. While employees are free to post anything they want on their personal social media, they need to be aware that they are responsible for their own posts. For example, you can require them to note in their social media bios that their posts are their own and not affiliated with your business.
What should your social media policy include?
Your social media policy should include several key points. There are risks involved in having social media accounts, so managing the potential risk but preparing for potential fallout are vital parts of your social media policy.
Define roles and responsibilities. This section of your social media policy should define who speaks for your brand and who doesn’t. You can also determine who holds login details and who will cover social media posting in the event of an absence, illness, or staff change.
You may also include details on your social media customer service strategy (some businesses refrain from commenting on negative posts, while others offer an invitation to reach out to support via email or phone – it just depends on your strategy.)
Security. There are risks to having social media accounts. It’s a good idea to identify potential risks and how to deal with them before a problem arises. You should include how often to change passwords and who is responsible for it. Clarify which devices can be used on your network and whether employees can use personal social accounts on work devices.
Your employees can be your biggest advocates – ensure they know how to escalate a problem or concern. This is useful if there is a problem with social media. If they know who to report issues to and how to escalate the issue if they don’t get an appropriate response, they will be more likely to help prevent a PR crisis.
Crisis preparation. Even though you hope there is never a reason to need to deal with a social media crisis, they happen. If you’re prepared in advance, you’ll have the tools to get ahead of it and limit the damage. Make sure there is an updated emergency contact list. You’ll need to include your social media team and upper management members – people who can make decisions in an emergency. Have the plan to identify the crisis (how bad or far-reaching it is), have a communication plan that involves the people who can help with the solution), and an approval process for the response.
Legal compliance. You’ll need to outline a few points in your legal section. Some things to address include the following:
Customer confidentiality and privacy.
Confidential company information.
Required disclaimers for testimonials.
Employees’ personal social media accounts. You may have already addressed this in your social media guidelines, but it is crucial to address this topic again in your social media policy. Remember, this is the place where you set your rules and consequences. Including employee social media accounts here can help you respond appropriately in a PR crisis, should an employee post something harmful to your business or reputation. Here are a few ideas to consider when addressing employee social media accounts:
Can your employees show the workplace or uniform?
Should they mention the company in their profile? If so, do you want them to add a disclaimer?
Are they required to identify themselves as employees when discussing the company or competitors?
Of course, this all sounds a bit alarmist – most employees will be just fine and won’t be of any concern. But maybe you’ve heard the old saying, “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst” even if you haven’t, you know that there is some peace of mind in thinking through and preparing for a negative situation.
How to implement your social media policy.
The first step to creating your social media policy is downloading our Free Social Media Template!
Next, reach out to your team for input. Consider regular employees, team leads, management, HR, the social media team, and marketing. Of course, include the departments, and people you feel will help create the most useful social media policy for your business.
Then, decide how to share your social media policy. Will you include it in your employee handbook? How do you share it with existing employees? These are small details, but they are essential.
Now share it with your team! Make sure everyone is aware that they need to review the document. This is an excellent opportunity for employees on all levels to ask questions and get answers. If you share an update rather than an entirely new policy, include an outline of the changes and the date it was updated.
Schedule your next update. You should review your social media policy at least once per year. Things change quickly on the internet. It would be best if you had your social media policy to stay up-to-date.
And finally, enforce it. It is only possible to have a social media policy if you’re going to enforce it.
You are now on your way to having an effective Social Media Policy! This is a big step – and an important one – towards protecting your brand online. Download your template here: