Does your company have a social media policy? Maybe you’ve determined your business needs one, or perhaps you’re on the fence about the value of such a policy. Maybe the one you have needs a little finesse. In any case, you need to know where to start, what to include, and why it matters. We have some tips to get you on your way toward compliant, secure, and engaging social media success.
Define who the key players should be in creating your social media policy. Depending on the size and scope of your organization, this can be as many as 10 people or as few as just two. You might want to consider including representatives from human relations, public relations, marketing, information technology, and legal. When it comes to defining how you want your employees to use social media as it relates to your company - the more mind power, the merrier.
Gremlin Social gives you the tools to set up a social media team, allowing different levels of access for the various members. Learn more about our options for team management.
Define Your Terms
No matter how savvy you and your coworkers are, it’s always a good idea to be clear about the terminology you’re using as it relates to social media. In a field that is constantly changing, people may have slightly different views and levels of understanding. So take the time to explain which networks your social media policy relates to and define key terms.
A portion of your employees may not actually use, understand, or value social media. Use the social media policy as an opportunity to explain how your company uses social media as an institution, what platforms and media the company considers to be “social media,” and outline some scenarios in which an employee might be encouraged to use social media for work purposes.
A big part of creating a social media policy is determining how you want your organization to use the various networks. Ask your key players to make a list of best- and worst-case scenarios for social media use as it relates to your company.
- Brand bashing vs. brand enthusiasm
- Sharing expert knowledge vs. proprietary information leaks
- Social media as a distraction/waste of time
- Customer service opportunities
- Meeting/breaking compliance regulations
- Potential copyright infringement
- Discussing coworkers/clients in a negative way
Addressing real concerns and situations that may arise will help you stay focused on what needs to be included in your social media policy to educate your employees about best practices.
It’s vitally important to consider the tone when writing your social media policy. Listing only the repercussions and restrictions can leave employees feeling intimidated, belittled, and even angry. If the tone is encouraging and supportive of social media use as it relates to the company, employees are likely to feel empowered, trusted, and a part of the team. You don’t want to dissuade your employees from mentioning your brand online – you want to encourage them to like, share, re-tweet, favorite, and tag your company to spread the good word.
Regulations to Review
Is your business one that is held accountable by the FDIC, FFIEC, FDA, FINRA, SEC, or other regulatory organizations? Perhaps you work with members of a union – you’ll want to be sure you and your employees’ social media activities meet within each union’s guidelines as well. Make sure you and your legal team read up on the social media requirements all these organizations outline and address them accordingly in your social media policy.
Do you have policies relating to intellectual property rights in your current employee agreements? Consider whether you’ll want to address that in your social media policy as well. Each social media network has its own terms and conditions – let's be honest ... we’re all aware of Facebook’s ever-changing privacy settings.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released a report outlining rulings on several recent court cases involving social media and employees. From confidentiality, privacy, protection of employer information, intellectual property, and contact with media and/or government agencies, the NLRB’s report shows that it’s often a very fine line between describing appropriate social media usage for employees and using unlawful, overly broad language that hinders employee rights. Thankfully, the report also includes a full example of what the NLRB considers to be a lawful social media policy.
Introducing the Policy
Congratulations! You and your team have expertly crafted your company’s slick new social media policy. Now it’s time to introduce the policy to your employees. Consider having a “town hall meeting” to discuss the policy in detail and answer any questions or concerns your employees might have, and explain what is expected of everyone. Not only will it help people understand any intimidating terminology, it will reinforce the team mentality behind creating such a policy.