Many businesses created social media policies years ago when social media started to play a larger role in the daily communications of individuals and organizations. But, have you considered when it was last updated?

There is a good chance that your social media policy is outdated or irrelevant for today’s use of these tools. So much has changed so quickly in the social media landscape that it is hard for even the most diligent followers to keep up. Even if your company doesn’t rely on social media to attract or conduct business, chances are your employees are actively using social media in one form or another.

Shockingly, 73 percent of companies lack a social media policy, according to the Pew Research Center. It is best to have a documented policy outlining the company’s stance on the use of social media related to your business. After all, why risk exposing yourself or the company by having an outdated policy in place?

The Basics

What should a social media policy DO?  What should we include?

  • Create guidelines for your employees that clearly define acceptable interactions via social media with company customers and contacts.
  • Protect the brand with clear-cut details on how social media may (or may not) be used as a part of an employee’s role and as a representative of the company.
  • Ensure the policy aligns with other company policies on harassment, slander and legal release of information.
  • Clearly spell out that the employee represents the company online and include a description of the benefits and pitfalls of social media.

The Components

Crafting a social media policy can seem overwhelming – and GRIT can help. We know how to consider everything from the 30,000-foot view to assessing risk scenarios and considering brand control when formulating such a policy.

In general, when crafting a social media policy, GRIT recommends answering the following questions: Is it only certain channels? Any content posted online? What sites and channels are covered by the policy?

Then, consider the following:

  • Identify a company spokesperson and/or social media manager. This person will be in charge of managing social media and online content and is approved to speak on behalf of the company.
  • Outline what is acceptable for employees to post on social media on behalf of the company and what they should do if they see anything inappropriate posted.
  • Define the rules of confidentiality and list what should never be shared online (customer information, proprietary product or process info).
  • Protect your organization guidelines. This can include keeping personal accounts secure, keeping software updated and making sure mobile devices are not easy to access by someone without a password. See GRIT’s blog post on how to protect your business on social media for more details.
  • Give reminders of best practices for social media: Social etiquette for written posts and comments, fact checking before posting, obeying copyright laws, free speech protections and remembering that anything posted on social media can be permanent.
  • Include guidelines for emergency use of social media and reinforce that only those with permission can share details or emergency-related information.
  • Depending on the industry, regulations may need to be included in the policy with notes on following the policy to adhere to appropriate standards.
  • Outline legal ramifications and address industry-specific legal details such as disclaimers and privacy procedures.
  • Be clear about the consequences of not adhering to the policy and the steps that will be taken if a staff member does not follow the established policy.

In addition, GRIT recommends having a social media policy reviewed by the legal department or your attorney before being finalized.

After making updates or developing your company’s first social media policy, the next steps are equally important: rollout, training and ongoing use. GRIT recommends a strategic training plan and communications rollout, as well as inclusion in onboarding.

Developing a detailed social media policy is an important business step. GRIT can provide sample policies to work from and customize a policy to fit individual business needs, keeping your business protected and strong. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can protect your brand and reduce your company’s risk.