The line between companies and their employees on social networks is very thin. Nowadays, organizations need a social media policy that helps keep brand reputation intact, while encouraging employee online engagement.

In this guide, we will show the benefits of having a social media policy and give you all the information you need to create yours. In addition, we will provide you with excellent examples of policies from recognized brands from which you can be inspired.

What is a social media policy?

A social media policy describes how an organization and its employees should behave online. This document helps protect your brand’s reputation while motivating employees to share the company’s message responsibly.

As social media evolves rapidly, this policy should be considered an open document; Constant updates will be necessary. But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a 26-page opus (check out this simple two-page document from Adidas). The goal here is to provide employees with clear, concise guidelines that are easy to follow.

Benefits of a social media policy

Whether your company is already well established on social media or is just starting to build its online presence, all organizations should have a social media policy. Here are some ways your business can benefit from establishing a social media policy.

Help protect your brand reputation

By clearly describing to your employees how to best represent the company online, including what they can and cannot share, you will reduce threats to your brand’s reputation. To further assist in this regard, a great social media policy will also outline the measures to be taken in case a mistake is made or a company social media username falls victim to an attack (by trolls or hackers).

Protects against legal issues or security risks

Social media policies can help safeguard your organization against potential legal issues and security risks by outlining potential threats and ways to avoid them. Additionally, your policy should describe the steps an employee should take if they accidentally put the company’s reputation at risk; or in case she falls prey to a malicious attack.

Empower employees to share company messaging

Additionally, social media policies can be a huge help when it comes to brand amplification. How? They take advantage of your most important promotional group: your employees. Additionally, company messaging is typically considered more credible when it comes from real people.

By having clear guidelines, companies can help their employees understand how to use social media to promote the brand. To use your social media policy as a branding tool through employees, the document should outline best practices for sharing company content on social media as well as commenting online.

Generate consistency between channels

Use your social media policy to outline expectations around brand voice and tone. Having a strong brand voice is beneficial for your business as it increases recognition, shows personality, and helps users connect with your business.

If you have employees who present to the public, you should also make sure they are aware of any brand standards regarding the look and tone of their social media accounts. For example, you may want your employees’ Twitter usernames to include a reference to your brand.

At Hootsuite, we encourage employees who interact with the public on behalf of the company to create a Twitter username using these naming conventions: @Hoot[nombre de la persona]. This allows customers to easily identify and interact with Hootsuite employees.

This section of your social media policy should also cover the appropriate use of images, videos, and other multimedia resources. If your business requires image sharing on social media to maintain consistent brand voice, you should outline these requirements in your policy.

Aspects that your social media policy should include

Before delving into specific sections, we suggest dividing your social media policy into two areas:

  1. Social media policy directed at official company accounts.
  2. Social media policy aimed at employees.

While there is overlap between the two areas, there are aspects of both that may require specific details.

  1. Rules and regulations

This section should describe your company’s expectations regarding the appropriate behavior and conduct of employees (on behalf of the company or on a personal level) on social media. For example, restricting the use of obscenities and controversial opinions when posting about the company.

Some of the specific details this section can delve into include:

  • Brand guidelines: How to talk about your company and products
  • Protocol and participation: Describe how you want your employees to respond to mentions of your brand (whether positive or negative).
  • Confidentiality: Defines the type of company information that should not be shared on social networks.
  1. Roles and responsibilities

This section should describe who is in charge of specific social media governance tasks. You may need to create a table divided into two columns. The first column defines a specific social media responsibility, brand guidelines, for example, and the person responsible for governance, preferably the brand manager, should appear in the second column.

Other social media roles and responsibilities to assign could include the following:

  • Message approval
  • Customer service
  • Interaction on social networks
  • Legal and security issues
  • Staff training
  1. Potential legal risks

To help you stay away from legal errors, your social media policy should provide clear guidelines regarding the management of potential problem areas. Do your research and be sure to integrate legal advice.

These are some topics that this section should cover:

  • Cite sources: Specify how your team should credit original sources if they are sharing someone else’s post or searching for content from an external source (image copyright, for example).
  • Privacy and Disclosure Procedures: Defines what is considered confidential and cannot be shared (such as plans for a rebranding release).
  • Employee Disclaimers: Require employees to include a disclaimer when publicly commenting on content related to your business that identifies them as employees. Typical disclaimers of this nature read as follows for applicable purposes, “the opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.” Additionally, you can suggest employees add such a disclaimer to any publicly available bio, such as Twitter or LinkedIn.
  1. Security risks

From phishing fraud to ransomware attacks (hijacking your computer data), security risks on social networks are, unfortunately, all too common. Businesses must be extremely vigilant when it comes to protecting their online presence.

Social media policies can protect against such risks by informing employees about threats, how to avoid them, and what steps to take if an attack occurs.

Your policy should provide guidelines on how to:

  • Create strong passwords
  • Prevent phishing attacks, spam, scams and other malicious threats
  • How to respond in the event of a security breach or attack
  1. Responsibility

At the end of the day, each employee is responsible for what they post online. Remind your staff to take precautions and use common sense when posting on behalf of the company or on their personal channels.

How to implement a social media policy

Request contributions. This policy must be developed with the participation of employees. Taking a team approach will help ensure that all of your principles are covered and that everyone is invested in the program.

Focus on the big picture. Social media changes all the time. Don’t spend too much time providing specific details about the use of each channel.

Do not discourage use. Your social media policy should invite employees to be active on social media and support your brand. Avoid creating a warning document.

Examples of social media policies

Finally, we present several social media policies, from public and private sectors, that you can use to inform yourself.

Examples of corporate social media policies

Examples of governance social media policies

Examples of social media policies in the healthcare sector

  • Mayo Clinic Employee Disclosure Policy: Brief and concise, this policy addresses issues such as employee disclosures and disclaimers. Without reinventing the wheel, it also offers links to organizational policies such as equipment use, patient confidentiality, and mutual respect.
  • Ohio State University Medical Center: Social Media Engagement Guidelines: If you’re looking for a way to separate and define your organizational and personal use sections, this is a great example. The policy begins with a clear definition of the two uses, and goes into detail in describing the processes and policies that apply to each segment.

Examples of social media policy for higher education

Via: Hootsuite


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