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Writing your own social media policy

One of the trends outlined in Mashable’s5 Social Media Trends to Watch Right Now [1]” is the increasing surge of companies adopting official social media policies, which run the gamut from short guidelines to jargon-y legal documentation.  As more and more companies embrace the ways in which social media can endear them to their consumers, official documentation just makes sense.

Inc.com [2] lays out some guidelines in “How to Write a Social Media Policy [3],” which includes the following important tips:

  1. A social media policy is crucial for any size business in order to “outline for employees the corporate guidelines or principles of communicating in the online world.”
  2. There are two approaches to writing a policy:
    a.    Writing one complete policy that applies across all current social media or
    b.    Writing separate policies on an application by application basis as they become relevant (such as having separate policies for LinkedIn, WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, etc).
  3. A policy covers both crisis management (maintaining the company’s image and protecting its confidential information) and brand opportunity (becoming another important arm of the marketing campaign).
  4. Identify your company’s “social media evangelists,” those most active within the framework of social media, to collaborate on the policy.
  5. Focus on what your employees can do rather than what they can’t or shouldn’t do.

Returning briefly to point #3, it’s important to remember (both from an employee and an employer perspective) that social media consumers often don’t distinguish between a personal and a professional message. So if you’re writing about your company in any social media forum, be sure to add a disclaimer to any message that you post. For example: “The views expressed here are mine alone and not necessarily the views of [insert company name here].”

Additionally, use good judgment and discretion when posting on your personal pages or you might get dooced (fired for posting objectionable content on a personal web page, like the Brixx pizza employee who was let go for insulting a customer on her Facebook wall [4]).

For employers, it is important to note that your employees are a great resource for promoting your business via social networks. Utilize their social media expertise and their reach to maximize your company’s message.

Looking for some examples of other companies’ SM policies?  Check here [5].  What’s your take on social media policies? Does your company have one?

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