Writing a social media policy
Why you need to start
Why do I need a social media policy? I need some tips on how to create a social media policy for work. I want to engage more with my customers on social media, what are the pitfalls to avoid? These are just some of the questions we answer in this article.
Social media has a huge impact on the average consumer/customer/client. It can be used to generate leads, improve brand identity and interact with customers.
Whether you use social media to promote your business or not, you still need a social media policy, because your employees and your customers use social media in their daily lives.
Social media can have a positive or a negative impact on your brand. A social media policy can help steer the impact towards the positive end.
What is a social media policy?
The term social media incorporates the social channels like, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn,YouTube, and many more. Because news can travel so quickly through the social media channels, you need to be prepared. If you think that a social media policy is a waste of time, then you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to engage with customers, existing and potential. You need to be prepared for negative publicity. The best preparation is to aim to avoid it, but be ready when it happens. That in a way is what a social media policy is about. It is a guide to help your employees present a positive image of your business. It can also be a disaster recovery plan, for when social media turns negative.
A good social media policy can achieve the following:
Keep your brand in front of your customers in a consistent manner
Prevent disclosure of sensitive information
Avoid regulatory or legal breaches. e.g. Copyright,
Avoid a PR disaster
Provide an advance plan of action to help stop a PR blip from becoming a disaster
Create an awareness among your employees of the power and responsibility that comes with social media
Keep everyone promoting your brand’s image
What should I put into a social media policy?
Be clear about everyone’s roles
Depending on the size of your business, you may have a number of employees engaging in social media on behalf of your company or all may fall to one person. All employees must buy into the social media policy, whether they are actively posting on behalf of the company or not. Because of the confined social networks we live in , it is a reality that social media has the power to influence, in a positive or negative way, our brand success. It is important therefore that everyone is on board.
The following roles and responsibilities need to be addressed:
Who posts what and how often
Customer service review to respond to increased demand as a result of good social media response.
Overall planning of social media and how it promotes the brand
Passwords, access and security in generally
Monitoring social media
Staff training and awareness
Who signs off on legal, financial, content matters?
Who oversees and coordinates a crisis response?
Take security measures
Who controls the passwords to your social media accounts? Limit the number of people who can change them. The fewer the better. One is best. Keep your software and hardware protected and up to date. You do not want to be hacked. Who is the go to person if an employee believes that there might be a problem? Have a plan in advance of a security breach or a PR disaster. It may never happen, but if you do not have a plan for what action to take, then the crises will take on a life of its own and cause damage to your brand. It is always better to be organised and get on top of the crisis as soon as possible.
Keeping it legal
A good social media policy should include a section explaining how to stay compliant with current legislation.
Avoid breaches of copyright, offensive images and comments, discrimination. defamation, company code of ethics
Privacy is vital. The social media policy should outline in detail the importance of protecting customer and employee privacy. It should outline the procedure to be followed in order to maintain privacy. Within the area of privacy is confidentiality. You should protect the confidential information of your business.
Guidance for employees
It is important that employees are made aware of the strengths and weaknesses of posting on social media and its effect on the business. This should cover how employees use their personal social media accounts, when it impacts their employer. If they breach the code of ethics of your business, by using hate speech etc, then they should be made aware of the consequences. In a more subtle way, what they post can also affect their relationships with their work colleagues and customers.
Tips on implementing a social media policy
Having read this far, you now have a good idea of what a social media policy should contain. It is always a good idea to seek input from key staff members. These may include your HR person, office manager, any person on whom you will rely for the implementation of the policy. This gives them an opportunity to contribute at an early stage and they may mention something which you have overlooked.
If you have an employee handbook, you should add the social media policy to it. Introduce it to all of your employees and encourage feedback and questions. If you haven’t an employee handbook, you should get one.
For more on employee handbook see
Review it regularly, because social media is changing constantly.
Download our social media policy template and adjust it to suit your needs.
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