In the olden days Social Media was seen as skiving off work, many organisations blocked access to all Social Networks. Now Social Media is now an important part of marketing, communications, customer service and market research. So you need a Social Media Policy for your organisation as soon as your big enough to have your team engaging on Social Media.
While researching this Post I found an entire list of Social Media Policies compiled by Social Media Governance. In that list the first one to jump out was Apple. Reading about Apple's Social Media Policy highlights (in an overhanded way) how important a Social Media Policy is for a big brand. Their guidelines (thankfully are much shorter than their terms and conditions) are so strict they used them as grounds for dismissal. To be fair their Social Media Policy, published here, originally taken from 9to5mac.com is actually well presented, easy to read, and seem really reasonable.
Just for the record neither me, nor Webalite, has any association or affiliation with Apple. We use, and swear at their products just as much as we do with any other software or hardware.
What your Social Media Policy needs to include
The aim of your policy is to be a living document that's easy to read an easy to understand. If you create a 80 page policy in legal terms then nobody is going to read it and the only benefit is to your lawyer.
Make sure you include:
- The purpose of the policy - set up the objectives in a single paragraph.
- Who the policy is for - explicitly explain who the policy is for and who to report to if required.
- Social Media Strategy - refer back to the goals of your Social Media Strategy and Plan.
- Intellectual property - remind your team that they need to credit other people's intellectual property appropriately.
- Confidentiality - ensure personal or confidential information is kept secret.
- Dealing with conflict - direct them to your Social Media Disaster Plan so they know what to do when things don't quite go according to plan.
- Abuse - a short statement to illustrate that abuse of Social Media will not be tolerated and disciplined quickly.
- Living Document - your Social Media Policy should be a living document so keep it on your internal wiki, or somewhere accessible so it's treated more like a manual than a set of rigid rules.
Remember a good policy will empower your team and create a framework in which to operate. Consider it a guide on how to follow best practices rather than a list of regulations and repercussions. Update it often as part of your quarterly review so you can keep pace with changes.
You need a Social Media Policy if your team are using Social Media for anything related to your business. If it's just you, as the Founder or Business Owner, you've got more important things to do. However, if you have a team, employee, or agency responsible for Social Media then yes you need a Social Media Policy.