If you work alone as a sole trader, you may not recognise the need for a social media policy, as you have the judgement call on what is right for your business all in your head, and along with that firm ideas about how you want yourself and your business to be represented online.
Add even one other person to the mix, and gaps can quickly appear that are not so obvious, but which should be clarified and closed before you and your business are exposed to risk over what an employee may have done or said online.
Even if you do work alone, it doesn’t hurt to list out basic guidelines and parameters about what is and is not acceptable on social media – from a legal perspective, but also from your own moral compass.
I know that policies and governance are often overlooked as the dull side of business process, but you certainly wouldn’t find it dull if your business and your reputation were compromised by errors made in your name, and if such a policy saved you from the risk of talking too freely or too inappropriately online.
Social media policy best practice
Creating a social media policy is a straightforward task, and as with other policies it should set expectations and boundaries for all employees, including limitations and suggestions for where personal and business use intersect.
If updating company social media accounts is part of an employee’s role, you will also need operational guidelines which go into more detail; keep the policy light and applicable to all, while the more in-depth training can be added to individual job roles as required.
Your policy document should be kept relatively short, allowing to be focused, specific and readily available and digestible.
Being specific should include defining boundaries – which company information is is appropriate to share and when, which logos can and can’t be used, what quotes can be attributed to whom, etc. Being focused removes the guesswork or blurred boundaries; you can always link out to other related policies you may have – which should also be short, focused and specific.
A well-crafted social media policy will liberate your employees, as they will know exactly where they stand on social media usage; with additional guidance, you will have the opportunity to leverage these well-trained employees as ambassadors for your business, as their focused and intelligent social media usage will increase their own and your business’s value online.
What should a social media policy include?
At the very minimum, your policy should cover any regulatory compliance or disclosure issues to avoid any risk of exposure online. In addition, you may want to cover basic copyright and source acknowledgement issues, with respect for other online users thrown in.
If you can then use this policy as a springboard to leading by example, you may be able to tap into the power of engaged employees active in your market, adding to your commercial advantage.
Wording will be determined by your approach to other policies, and should always be targeted at the appropriated level and tone for your employees. If you take a look at the very useful Social Media Policy Database, you will see a collection of companies’ social media policies which range from complex and legal language through to friendly and conversational guidelines across a range of different organisations.
Not sure where to start with your policy and other social media activity? Why not give me a call or email me with your needs, let’s see how we can work together for your company’s success.