A social media policy is an essential part of a social media strategy. It’s vital to create and put in practice before posting to your designated platforms.
Firstly, your business must check that your social media marketing is following all official and relevant laws and regulations. But what comes next? What makes a good social media policy?
What is a Social Media Policy?
According to SearchCompliance, a social media policy is ‘a corporate code of conduct that provides guidelines for employees who post content on the Internet either as part of their job or as a private person.’
It’s particularly useful for companies that are looking to outsource their social media marketing, as it helps agencies better align with a brand that they’ve never worked with before. It helps you get on the same page as each other, with less back and forth, and even less trial and error.
Why Should you Have a Social Media Policy?
73% of companies don’t have an official social media policy. Many only put one in place, after a major PR disaster or when something has gone horribly wrong on social media. Every year, social media sees an array of fails and slip-ups from brands and companies. Some examples of social media backlashes can be; an employee tweets something offensive from an official company account, a hashtag campaign backfires or an employee shares confidential company information online. One small thing could sabotage your entire strategy.
That’s why it’s important to have a social media policy in place, so everyone can follow strict guidelines and rules. It helps safeguard your brand’s reputation and encourages employees to responsibly share the company’s message. This is also vital if your company is in a prolific industry or want to promote on the social platforms. Facebook has strict guidelines on what you can and can’t promote, so your policy needs to align with these too.
A social media policy helps to empower your staff when they are performing social media management and make them feel more comfortable too. When they know the boundaries, they will be more active and confident in posting. However, it also defends your company against any security or legal issues.
What Happens When You Don’t Have a Social Media Policy?
As briefly discussed above, if you do not have a social media policy in place your employees may put out something to the world that you didn’t want known. This could be a reveal of a new product too early, information you didn’t want discussed at all or even something simple, like a misplaced logo on an image.
What Should Be in My Social Media Policy?
Hootsuite states that this section should include instructions on ‘brand guidelines, etiquette and engagement, confidentiality, consequences and social media for personal use’.
Rules and Regulations
Brand guidelines are essential to keep your company’s image consistent on social media. You should include specifications of your logo and whether the colours should change depending on the hue of the background. You should identify all brand colours and fonts that can be used too. Make sure to include whether you allow stock images and then what ones are suitable for social media as well.
Your social media policy should also include the tone of voice you want to use on social media too. This could be friendly or serious, punchy or flowing, traditional or modern or passionate or calm. You may also want to address sentence length and the point of view you want to write from. For example, a brand may just be marketing a person, so will want to use ‘I’, instead of ‘we’, and ‘me’ instead of ‘us’. Some social media policies are so strict that certain words have to be used with certain products. As long as you communicate with your employees what they can and can’t do, no policy is too much to handle.
Make sure your social media policy also addresses taboo topics in general and those that relate to your industry. For example, a general taboo topic may be using offensive language in a tweet. It could also be telling a lie or not quoting the whole truth. Whereas, a taboo topic relating to a business in the medical industry could be discussing a certain pharmaceutical. The more difficult the subject matter, the trickier the social media policy.
Make sure everyone is aware of your competitors. Tweetdeck allows you to make lists on its platform, so you can keep an eye on what your competition is doing. However, it is also handy as it helps your other employees know who your competitors are, and who to avoid. Facebook has a similar feature on their Insights page, which allows you to add to a ‘Pages to Watch’ list, which has the same effect as Tweetdeck’s tool.
Nevertheless, it’s also vital to have a list of competitors and people you do not want your brand to engage with on social media. This will help employees avoid sharing content from their websites on your social media pages or citing their quotes in articles.
Etiquette and Engagement
A social media policy also needs to incorporate community management as well as posting. This is how you engage, communicate and deal with complaints via your social media pages. Your policy needs to set a tone and attitude for employees, when it comes to responding. It should be appropriate for your brand. For example, if your company wants to keep a serious tone, make sure all the interactions reflect the same austerity. You could even opt to prohibit emojis and abbreviations too.
You need to set in your social media policy what can and can’t be disclosed. This could be new information about products or services or client details. Social media should not be treated like a best friend and often rules need to outline what can be shared to the public.
Furthermore, one of the key aspects of your social media policy should be consequences. If an employee knowingly breaks the rules, then you need to disclose in the policy what will happen next. Let your employees know that they are responsible for whatever they post on social media on company accounts, so will have to face the cost of what happens next.
Train your employees, so they know your social media policy. Make sure there are regulations in place for employees’ personal social media accounts too. For example, negative comments about the company should be prohibited and any images of products that haven’t been approved should not be posted.