Maxim Gorin Explains How to Create a Social Media Policy for Your Business
Social media has become the front-facing communication source for many businesses, but with great responsibility. You need to ensure that your company employs the correct etiquette to avoid potential lawsuits. Maxim Gorin discusses creating a social media policy for your business.
How Social Media is Used for your Business
The first step in creating a social media policy is to define how social media will be used in your business. There are many ways that businesses can use social media, including:
Posting job openings and accepting resumes
Promoting products or services
Engaging with customers through contests or surveys
Sharing news and updates about the company
Providing customer support
Training and Education
It's critical to tailor your policy specifically to your business because every industry has different rules and regulations that they must follow to be compliant. For example, you need to ensure that employees aren't posting any confidential information online if you're using social media to post job openings. Or, if you're using social media to promote products or services, you'll want to make sure that employees aren't making any false statements about your company.
Establishing Rules for Employee Use of Social Media
Once you've defined how social media will be used in your business, you'll need to establish expectations of social media by employees, including personal and company-owned accounts. Some considerations include:
Are employees allowed to post about their work on personal accounts?
Are employees allowed to friend or follow customers on personal accounts?
Are employees allowed to post pictures of the workplace?
What type of content is prohibited (e.g., defamatory comments, obscene language, etc.)?
Be clear and concise with these rules and make sure that all employees understand the consequences of breaking them.
Drafting a Policy on Acceptable and Unacceptable Content
Once you've established company rules, it's time to draft a policy on acceptable and unacceptable content, including company-sponsored information and employee content posted while representing the company online. Things to think about:
Is profanity allowed? How about obscenities or hate speech?
What types of photos are allowed (e.g., personal pictures vs. showing illegal activity)?
Are any images of a sensitive nature prohibited (e.g., depicting violence against animals)?
Can employees share links from other sites? What kinds of external links are not permitted (e.g., gambling, adult content)?
What is the company's stance on political or religious affiliation?
It's important to remember that just because something is allowed under the law doesn't mean it's acceptable for your business. You have the right to dictate what type of content is appropriate for your company, and employees should be aware of these rules and the consequences for breaking them before posting anything online.
Outlining Procedures for Responding to Negative Comments or Complaints
One of the biggest challenges businesses face with social media is how to respond to negative comments or complaints. While you can't please everyone all the time, you need a plan in place for how to handle these situations. Here are a few ideas to think about:
Who will be responsible for responding to comments (e.g., social media managers, PR team)?
How quickly should responses be made? Will there be a time limit for responding to comments or complaints?
What steps will employees take when removing offensive content (e.g., blocking the user so they can't post again)? What if this doesn't work? How about taking legal action against someone who is making defamatory claims online?
Remember that you don't have to respond at all; in some cases, it's best to ignore an angry customer and wait until things blow over before saying anything publicly.
Creating Guidelines for Sharing Company Information Online
The next step in creating your policy is outlining guidelines for sharing company information online. Important points include:
Who has permission to post company information (e.g., only the marketing department)?
When are employees allowed to share content online? Is there a time limit for how long they can promote their business on social media sites, or is it okay as long as it's not overused?
What types of promotional efforts are permitted (e.g., contests, giveaways, special offers)? What rules must be followed when promoting your business online?
You may want to create different guidelines based on whether you're using personal accounts or company-owned accounts too. For example, if an employee participates in a contest via their personal account instead of the official company account, will that affect their employment with your organization? Think through these factors before creating your policy.
Training Employees on the Policy and Answering Questions
The last step in writing a social media policy is to train employees on it by answering any questions and addressing any concerns. Ensure that everyone understands what's expected of them when using their company accounts and personal accounts. To facilitate this, try:
Write up short descriptions or cheat sheets for each section; this will make referencing specific rules easier in the future.
Schedule regular meetings to discuss new trends related to social media so your team is aware of changes.
Allow employees to ask questions via email if necessary if there are many different departments involved with your business's presence online (e.g., marketing, PR, customer service).
It might be a good idea to create specific social media roles for each team. Doing this ensures that everyone is on the same page and knows what they're responsible for when promoting your company online.
When creating a social media policy for your business, there are many things to consider. By considering these factors, a clear, consistent policy can be created that will help keep everyone in your organization on track when it comes to using social media. Keep in mind; these policies are amendable and should be updated as needed as the landscape of engagement technology is ever-changing. So don't worry if something doesn't fit perfectly right away. Just be sure to communicate any changes clearly to all employees on behalf of your company as policies change.
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes