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Do You Need a Social Media Policy?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 1/27/11 10:11 AM
I’m frequently asked by clients if they should have a social media policy. My answer? Maybe. Ask a lawyer versed in the aspects of social media as it pertains to current law. (who knows your business and industry.)
But what if that is not an option for you (oh, small business owner). There are conflicting thoughts out there. So, I decided to ask a colleague her thoughts. Let me know what you think.~e

This following article is a guest blog written by Deborah McLean.

Do you really need a social media policy?

A social media policy will help you clarify your thinking about social media usage, and give your employees and representatives the direction and parameters they need to be effective ambassadors.

Just as you have HR policies for other parts of your business (deportment, business hours and expectations, confidentiality) you should at least provide employees with guidance on your social media expectations.

You can insert social media policies into your existing HR format easily, because they’re essentially covering the same ground as other communication, privacy or public relations policies.

What your social media policy could cover.

  • Who can represent the company using social media
  • How the company is portrayed
  • General expectations on topics
  • Standards for treating co-workers, administration, vendors, clients/customers and the general public
  • Confidentiality requirements for your company and your company’s clients
  • Expectations for social media conduct during the employee’s non-work hours

What to be care of with a social media policy.

A social media policy shouldn’t be laborious or filled with small print. It’s not supposed to be a tricksy, punitive document, but an aid to transparency and clear communications. It’s a road map to responsible writing by genuine people willing to be accountable when they represent your company.

How to create a social media policy.

There are lots of templates and examples available on line. Social Media Governance has a great compilation of social media policy examples from companies all across the spectrum, American Red Cross to the Navy to Yahoo. Susan Warner at StaffOne has compiled a good policy slide show and there are other good examples on the web.

As social media increases, many feel it is important to be proactive and cover your bases with a social media policy. It will help your company avoid trouble, and give important guidance to your employees, both at work and on their own time.

The other side of the Social Media Policy coin. 

Some question whether a social media policy is necessary, after all
 if you focus is on hiring good quality people, doesn't a policy defeat the purpose and end up handcuffing employees? Doesn't stifle your brand and message, and therefore your growth?

Sound off. What do you think? What do you think the pros and cons are of having and sticking to a social media policy?

Topics: guest blog post, social media policy