What to Include in Your Social Media Policy - dummies

What to Include in Your Social Media Policy

By Kyle Lacy, Stephanie Diamond, Jon Ferrara

All Social CRM companies need to understand the importance of revising media policy. Any corporate legal department staff will tell you that their most important mission is to save the corporation millions of dollars in lawsuits and license breaches.

They’ll also tell you that vigilance is the most important aspect of their job. They have to constantly monitor the changing legal environment and protect the corporation from exposure. Some people argue that their zeal can get in the way of innovation, but no one denies the legal department’s importance.

In their excellent book Social Marketing to the Business Customer (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman outline several reasons why your company shouldn’t simply revise current policies for social media. They recommend that your business create specific social media policies from scratch. The reason for this is that social media may change the definition of such things as soliciting and disclosure of information.

Here are some of the areas that they recommend any business engaged in social marketing consider:

  • Public disclosures: Updates on social media can in some cases be considered a public disclosure, so make sure your policy covers it. (An example of a public disclosure could be the expression of a budget number or other information that may affect the stock price.)

  • Company property: Make sure your policy about not using company property for personal gain clearly spells out what employees who manage social platforms can and can’t do.

  • Confidential information: Online resources need to be clearly defined so that even if something is found online, an employee can easily distinguish whether it is public or private.

  • Technical services: A clear definition of where confidential information can be posted should include the use of online platforms like Google Docs and other tools that include cloud storage.

  • Inappropriate solicitations: In many cases, social media qualifies as a solicitation of information. The policy should be written to spell out inappropriate solicitations.

  • Passwords and security: People who run your company’s social media accounts may lay claim to the followers as their own if they leave the company. Ensure that your policy includes statements about who owns the passwords and accounts and what security measures will be taken to protect them.

  • E-mail: Make it clear as to what information can and cannot be in an employee signature. This will clarify whether they can list their social media accounts in their e-mail signature.

As you go through the above list, you can see that rewrites from scratch are critical. That’s why it’s so important to evaluate and clarify your own policies before you’re forced to confront an unpleasant situation.

When creating your policies, you can find very helpful collections written for a variety of different industries for you to model. They are compiled by the following people:

  • Eric Schwartzman: He has created a social media policy template that you can use as a guideline.

  • Chris Boudreaux: He compiled a list of policies at his Social Media Governance blog.

  • Dave Fleet: You can find his list of resources at his blog, Conversations at the Intersection of Communications, PR and Social Media.

    Dave Fleet's blog.

The social media policy tool wizard can help you fill in the blanks in your social media policy.

Because social media technologies continue to evolve, it can be hard for managers to get their arms around all the issues related to social media governance. It can be helpful to look at the UBM Techweb Technology Brief Information Governance: Taming the Data Wild West, in which UBM Techweb outlines these best practices for implementing an information governance policy:

  • Check that your in-house counsel and department heads agree with policies.

  • Decide which policies and what types of information take priority.

  • Decide which technologies best suit the policies you put in place.

  • Make sure that employee training is available when you roll out policies.

By taking a slow and steady approach to making the necessary changes, social media governance can become manageable.