Why Your Brand Needs A Social Media Policy
Even if you are a small company with less than five employees or live in a small town having a social media policy written out as you begin a foray into the various Social Media Platforms will only help as you grow. With proper planning your business and social media will grow into something more complex with time as you reach out and expand to more platforms and more dynamic content. So beginning correctly with a social media plan even if your efforts are minimal will only help you in the long run as you head for more and greater opportunities. Check out below as we walk you through finding, implementing and adapting a social media plan to your current structure:
Where To Start
Social Media Plans can be fairly broad or quite specific to your industry. What we have found is by searching out industry specific policies then drilling down from there helps establish a base for your company. You wouldn’t have probably the same policy from a health care perspective as you would for a clothing retailer so you want to make sure that you can see what other’s are willing to share that they do as a baseline. You also want to insure that you aren’t going overboard with your staff that will be assisting your social media marketing efforts in what they can and cannot post on their personal profiles. Seeing the lines that other companies in your specific industry have drawn will only help keep your own policy in check as you progress.
Great You’ve Found A Policy That Looks Good
Time to change it. Your goals for social media are personal. They should be specific to not only your business but your community. You want to make sure that your policy while keeping those industry standards in focus also is different and unique to where you live and further what you hope to achieve. If you can only devote 5 hours a week to social media brand development your goals will be very different than a company that is further down the line from you and has an inhouse or contractor in place at 10-20 hours a week. Start where you live and create goals that yes will require work, but are realistic.
What Should Your Policy Include?
Here are the basics of what that Social Media Policy should cover to start. As you encompass more social media platforms you will from time to time need to revisit your policy to make sure it is up to date with your current social media footprint, but here is a start:
Definitions – Social Media and the Digital Constructs of our World are forever changing. Make sure you define what you consider Social Media to mean and this includes the various platforms you wish to be or are ready involved in.
Scope – If this covers your entire staff or just a small team that you have pulled together for the purpose of marketing and pr make sure you state in the Policy who this will effect in the long term. You can have two policies: one for your entire staff and how they interract on social media privately if they show a link to your company (be careful here!), and one for just those who interract on behalf of your company on social media with specific areas of advisement listed a part of their position.
Goals/Coverage – You will want to line out what are the core elements of your company/business and how those key areas should be embodied on the various social media platforms. Most companies have an emphasis on service, courteousness, a respectful following for local and national laws including copyright laws or industry specific laws, and most companies will prohibit the use of foul or course language.
For Goals this would be specific to those who work on your Social Media or Marketing team in roles defined on your social media platform (Admin, Editor, Contributor, Monitor and so forth); building your social media team you will need to have some specific goals for what you hope to accomplish on the various platforms so everyone is aware of where the ship is headed. If you use Facebook as a Community Relations point and Twitter to handle more real time inquiries your Social Media Policy for those team members should state this. This also helps in the creation of dynamic content for the platforms so that everyone knows where to publish specific materials. Photo/Video works great on Instagram or Facebook, helpful infographics and how-to’s on Pinterest, more immediate text on Twitter and so forth.
Your staff should be ultimately aware that you have a Social Media Policy (or a couple depending on their position) and should be able to call it to mind when they need to refer to it. As well offering a team meeting, then staff meetings as needed to review social media policies as they change or as social media platforms change and become more dynamic is key to continuing education to make sure problems do not arise. If you live in an area where social media adaptation is fairly new you will have a great deal of ground to cover. You could consider putting together some bullet points of best practices and circling them to your staff either digitally or in the break room so they have it. Another alternative is to schedule classes occassionally to further educate your staff on how they should be interracting on behalf of your company.
Use A Legal Aid
Before you get too far down the road about rolling this out, spend the time and have a lawyer (one who understands policies for businesses) review your policy to make sure you are on point and most importantly not infringing on the rigths of your Employees or Staff. Your only control is how what they say reflects on your business and if they are using your business as a means to convey a message. Bottom line: be careful about telling employees what they can and cannot do on their own personal social media sites. As well it is always best to invest proper funds in having a lock tight policy that you can confidently refer to in the future before having your staff sign.
So there you have it some tips, ideas and yes plans to put into place as you foray out into the great big beautiful world of social media. I know it can seem boring, but hey it protects your business in the long term and no one will do that except you as the owner. Have any tips or strategies you would like to share? Leave them in the comments below!