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Do you need a social media policy for your business?

Ugh ‘policy’. It’s not exactly a sexy word. In fact, most people cringe and run the other way when they hear ‘policy’. Especially when it’s associated with social media. Because social media is supposed to be enjoyable isn’t it? Fun even. And let’s face it, there’s nothing enjoyable about social media policy – besides, only big companies need a social media policy right? Erm, no.

So let’s talk unsexy social media policy and add a little interest to it. Let’s talk about what it is, what it’s for and why you might need to implement one, quick smart.

Firstly what is a social media policy?

Okay okay, stop frowning, I know you know what social media policy is but let’s get more into the nitty gritty. There are three distinct areas of social media and social media usage for which you can draft social media policy. There’s a Social Media Management Policy, Social Media Usage Policy and Social Media Platform policies. All have different purposes and contain different information. And when I say ‘information’, I don’t mean a bunch of useless crap that no-one reads. I mean factual, to-the-point, user-friendly sets of instructions and guidelines for your social media management and usage. Let’s start with a Social Media Management Policy.
Social Media Management Policy

Scenario: You have a Facebook business page and because you’re so busy running your business you offload the management of that page to a couple of your staff. How hard could it be right? They just have to publish a few posts here and there and promote the business and engage your online customers. But when you start noticing inappropriate content being posted and customer feedback being deleted, you realise that perhaps you should have implemented a social media management policy after all.

If one or more of your employees manage your business social media pages, then you’ll need a Social Media Management Policy. A Social Media Management Policy articulates how your social media pages and platforms will be governed. This type of policy establishes guidelines for how to manage your social pages including defining what is appropriate content (and more importantly inappropriate content) for your pages, customer relations management as well as guidelines for crisis management. Setting up this type of social media policy means that you’re making it completely clear as to how you want your business and your brand managed and portrayed online and how you want your business to communicate with your readers, customers and potential customers. Once this policy is up and running, be sure to include it in an induction process if you have new staff commencing and you’re planning for them to jump into your business social media accounts.

Social Media Platform Policy

Scenario: You decide your Facebook business page needs more engagement so you ask a slightly controversial question expecting professional discussion. What you instead receive is online trolls, arguments and comments that are downright offensive. Commenting is pretty much open-slather because you haven’t set up the community ground rules from the start and there’s a possibility you’ll end up spending valuable time putting out fires instead of generating great online engagement.

A social media platform policy establishes guidelines for how your fans, friends and followers should interact with your social platforms. It also establishes consequences if those guidelines aren’t followed and might include warning, blocking or banning offenders. A social media platform policy is particularly important if your page encourages discussion around political, controversial or emotive topics. It makes it clear for everyone in your online community as to what is and what isn’t appropriate.
Social Media Usage Policy

Scenario: Trawling through your personal Facebook profile when you come across one of your staff having posted images of themselves on a Friday night sporting their work shirt with your business logo, clearly on a drunken rampage. Great for them, but possibly not so great for you (and where was your invite!!). Whilst you might be happy that your staff member has had a great weekend, it’s probably not great for your business image considering your logo doesn’t look quite as grand covered in vomit and splashed across Facebook!

A Social Media Usage Policy provides guidelines for employees on how how they may use social media whilst at work/on the job as well as at home. We’re in a time where, for many, social media is our primary form of communication with friends, family and colleagues but over-use at work (depending on your industry) can impact on productivity and hinder job performance. Having a Social Media Usage policy that provides guidance on how, when and where your employees can use social media ensures that everyone knows the ground rules from the start. Is it appropriate for your employees to be checking-in at certain places on social media while at work? Are you happy for them to be tweeting about the daily goings-on of your business? Are you happy for them to talk about your brand online while they’re not at work. How does that impact your reputation? Whatever your professional expectations of your employees are, it’s important to clearly articulate that in a formal document that everyone has access to.

Whilst it’s not great fun drafting social media policy for business, it’s definitely a great strategy for preventing online crises or at least providing an action if the worst occurs.

Do you have a social media policy in place for your business?

Jacqui Honeywood
About the author: Jacqui Honeywood is the director of B-BRAND, she loves nothing more than drinking coffee by day and wine by night. Oh and she’s a social media and blogging nerd too. In fact she loves developing social media strategy and social media policy for business (yes she’s a little weird like that).

 

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