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TechTarget defines a social media policy as "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."

If you use social media to promote your business, you need a social media policy. Why? Because anything available online could potentially become viral -- especially mistakes from employees and unresolved complaints. You need something to keep your online presence consistent and protect your company’s reputation.  

Here is a brief introduction to social media policy. I hope it will help you craft guidelines that resonate with your employees and audience.

Note: The slides are adapted from a presentation I gave at a local conference.

Some important reminders

  • All departments in your company should be involved in the drafting process. You want the policy to make sense for everyone.

  • Make your guidelines concise and available in writing at all time. Ask that all employees read them at least once yearly or every time you update them.

  • Social media changes constantly. Include a paragraph on future new technology.

  • Your policy should not just cover your company's blog and social media accounts. Personal use of social media matters too. Your employees are an extension of your brand inside and outside the workplace. 

  • Clearly define what is and isn't "acceptable use". Examples of unacceptable use include copyright infringement / plagiarism and downloading pirated software.

  • Spell out the kind of disciplinary action you will take if policy is not followed.

  • Some questions to ask your employees and social media reps 

  • Do you understand the purpose of each social media platform we / you use?

  • Are you up to date with the new features and developments in social media?

  • Are you aware of some of the tools you can use to monitor the social media realm efficiently?

  • Do you understand your responsibilities as social media users inside and outside the workplace?

  • If not, adequate training should be provided.

    Take a look at some of the mistakes made by big brands; the Web is full of case studies. Invite employees to read and discuss them. What would they do differently? How would they handle the situations?

    Role-playing can also be used to learn how to deal with complaints and disgruntled customers. The exercise will allow staff to come up with pre-written scripts like the following:

    “Hello, my name is XXXXXX and I am very sorry this is happening to you. We are looking into the issue right now. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at XXXX.”

    Stress the importance of empathy and friendliness. Your employees should also use their real names and not delete public comments.

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