Why Your Business Needs To Have A Social Media Policy

Why Your Business Needs To Have A Social Media Policy

Nov 1, 2021 7 min read

A brand's exposure on social media can be a double-edged sword. On the positive side, businesses use social channels to build brand awareness, build an audience, and acquire new customers. However, any misuse of the channels can severely dent the company's image and reputation, thereby affecting its business potential.

Hence, a comprehensive social media policy with well-defined guidelines and best practices helps the business protect and build its brand equity. Without a clear policy, you run multiple risks, from being embarrassed by what your employees post on social channels to the risk of facing libel and legal issues.

7 Elements Of A Good Social Media Policy

A social media policy is the code of conduct for your business and its internal stakeholders (your employees) for posting and interacting on social media. It's a dynamic document with easy-to-understand guidelines that responds to changes in the social environment.

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The policy protects the brand image and prevents disruptions to your social media marketing efforts. Let's look at seven elements of a robust and comprehensive social media policy.

#1. Set Professional & Personal Boundaries
#2. Protect Confidential Information
#3. Designate The Official Spokesperson
#4. Outline Legal Issues
#5. Create Guidelines For Expressing Views On Social Channels
#6. Train Your Employees
#7. Protect Brand Equity
Wrapping Up

You can directly jump to a section of your choice or keep scrolling.

#1. Set Professional & Personal Boundaries

The content that people share online can positively and negatively impact a business’s professional reputation. It’s a given, and your social media policy needs to reflect this reality.

Within your policy, you should state that the social media content that harms the company’s image is grounds for termination. Most companies ask employees to use their discretion when posting content on social media. Still, it’s worth explaining what type of content is unacceptable for your business. For example, posting defamatory content, racist content, etc. is not acceptable. Of course, you can’t cover everything.

Below is a good example of how you might word this portion of your policy.

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You might also want to define on which channels employees have more freedom to share content. For example, you might be explicit that the company will more closely moderate a channel like LinkedIn.

#2. Protect Confidential Information

The policy should clarify that confidential information like sales revenue, profitability, and salaries can't be shared online. Besides, accessing social media from the workplace network can also open the door to viruses and malware attacks.

This security breach could give hackers access to confidential information across your organization. Not only would it breach login credentials, but it could also put sensitive customer information like their payment and contact details at risk. The resulting loss of customer trust would severely dent the company's reputation.

Your social media policy should educate your employees about not falling prey to click-bait links, and your IT systems should prevent direct downloads from the social channels. Proactive social media management is better than reacting to security breaches.

#3. Designate The Official Spokesperson

A robust social media policy defines who can post and interact on social channels while using the company account. Keep this list narrow, but cover key verticals like customer service, sales, and marketing.
It is also advisable to designate the official spokesperson or the brand voice. Typically this would be the social media manager at a larger company, while a smaller company could nominate someone.

Either way, you should make sure the designated spokesperson clearly perceives the brand's identity and is aware of social media policies. It helps to give them a test to see & check their level of awareness.

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But don’t just ask them to enumerate your brand’s core values on social media. Instead, see how they’ll apply that theoretical knowledge into practice. Give them specific situations and ask them how exactly they’d react. Here are some sample questions:

  • Someone on Facebook says our product isn’t that good and that they should switch to the competition. What would you do?
  • Someone on social media says our product was damaged when it got to them. What would you tell them?
  • Someone on social media bashes our marketing campaign. How would you react?

The more situational questions you ask, the better you can gauge whether a person is social media-savvy enough for such an important position.

But don’t just rely on the test. Do your due diligence as well. Check out the applicant’s social media activity. What do they post? Are these appropriate posts? Remember, your official spokesperson should be an active social media user. They should themselves follow the guidelines of the social platform they are active on. They have to set an example for all your employees.

If you’re satisfied with how they conduct themselves online and with the situational responses, then go ahead and make the appointment. Again, the spokesperson would have the final say on what is appropriate to post and what isn't.

There are legal issues that employees and those monitoring them need to be aware of with regards to a social media policy. With regards to the management, employees have the right to share content privately without being prosecuted.

Chris Boudreaux, a senior vice president at New York-based social-media consulting firm Converseon, cites the example of a New Jersey restaurant to validate this point.

The restaurant tripped up when its manager fired an employee who had posted derogatory remarks about the restaurant on their private social page. The manager had secretly gained access to the employee's private page without authorization. The employee sued the restaurant and received a five-figure settlement.

On the other side, employees need to be aware that they can be liable for reputational damage they cause the company. Some companies do recommend that employees take out liability insurance for this particular reason.

#5. Create Guidelines For Expressing Views On Social Channels

The law mandates that anyone using social media for company-related activities must disclose their identity. The guidelines in your social media policy must clearly define the brand’s story and style so that all communications, be it voice, text, or visuals, are "on brand" in terms of both content and style.

However, sometimes the topic at hand may require the employee to share their opinion. In all such cases, the employee must preface their comment with the declaration, "this is my personal opinion." In case of a conflict between brand opinion and the employee's opinion, the employee should go with the brand opinion or refrain from commenting.

You can also ask your employees to write a disclaimer on their social media profiles, just to be sure. In the About section, for instance, they can insert a sentence that says any statement made on the platform is their personal opinion. For example, the sentence “All views expressed in this account are mine alone and do not at all reflect my employer’s views” will do.

#6. Train Your Employees

Employees empowered with the right training and tools can add value to the company's marketing efforts. The employees can use the social channels to build brand awareness by amplifying the branded content and building relations with customers and prospects.

The following best practices are useful when training your employees:

1. Weave social media into your culture. Be transparent about your policies, share success stories, and encourage participation.

2. Start with the end in mind. Define your objectives. Are you looking to create brand ambassadors? Or do you want to create brand awareness and build an audience? Clear goals will help in designing a relevant training program.

3. Define employee roles. This part includes who will do what bit. Who will focus on and be responsible for building awareness? Who will handle conversions? Who will handle the customer experience? A clear definition of roles will prevent overlapping of tasks and improve accountability.

4. Ensure employees are clear on policies. Make sure your policy is dynamic and is clearly understood by your employees. You can give them a written copy of your policies and ask them to read those. To make sure they read the document, ask them to affix their signature at the end.

Every new employee must receive social media training as part of their onboarding process.

#7. Protect Brand Equity

Brand equity is how your customers view and value your brand. For a brand, its equity is its most prized asset, and brands will go to any length to protect their brand identity. That means defining strict guidelines for your employees on all social media activity, both personal and professional.

Some points to include in your social media policy to protect your brand equity include:

  • Limit the number of employees who can post from the company's social media accounts.
  • Train these employees on acceptable language that is in line with the brand identity.
  • Nominate a person who will manage the social media channels during critical times.
  • Frame policies and train employees on how to create brand awareness and drive traffic to your website.

While a lot of this may sound like common sense, sometimes it's best to spell things out.

Wrapping Up

A social media policy is not about putting undue restrictions on your employees. It's about helping your brand succeed in the social media space.

The key is to keep your social media policy simple and easy to understand. The policy and its implementation enable your employees to properly represent your brand online.

With the right guidance and training, and a policy that evolves with time, you empower employees to use social media responsibly.

To ensure social media policy is followed, it's essential to manage team collaboration which becomes quite tedious without the help of a Social Media Collaboration Tool.

Statusbrew helps you streamline complex workflows, set up access permissions, & understand your team performance with easy-to-use reporting to handle social media tasks effortlessly without breaching the policies.

Follow the link below to discuss more!

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Allie Decker

Head of Content at Omniscient, a marketing agency that works with SaaS brands. In the last 8 years, I contributed more than 100 high-converting articles for HubSpot, Entrepreneur, Hotjar, and Foundr.