It's time to develop a social media policy that really works for your brand
Policy. It’s a controversial word in the world of social media.
Why? Social media policies that are too restrictive discourage engagement and limit creativity, which can ultimately end up hurting your brand. Social media teams that are bound by tight policies often struggle to establish brand personality and create a devout following - which is the exact opposite of what a business should want from their social media presence.
But that’s not to say a social media policy isn’t extremely important.
A well crafted social media policy should encourage, support, and guide high-quality, authentic engagement.
The key is getting it right and finding a balance between creating a policy that establishes guidelines, while still empowering and trusting the right people to positively represent your brand online.
You’ll likely want to break your social media policies out into two separate sections. I've outlined them below + we've put together a basic social media policy template for you to get started with!
For employees, agencies, and other individuals running or using your brand’s social media accounts. This policy should -
- Cover roles, responsibilities, expectations, and branding guidelines.
- Give all parties involved the information they need in order to work together. Whether you handle your social media in-house, use an agency, or some combination of both, there are likely a lot of hands involved in your social presence. Keeping everyone on the same page and establishing clear roles and responsibilities is imperative.
- Provide guidelines for handling any areas of potential legal concern, including crediting sources, disclosure policies, and disclaimer procedures.
- Outline crisis management details. Clearly communicating how to handle critical situations, including the proper chain of command to use in these moments, will allow your social media team to respond to emergencies before things get out of control.
- Include several examples that will help communicate:
- The tone + voice that is to be used to represent your brand.
- Content guidelines and general topic areas for all individuals who post on social media as your business.
- Approved responses to common situations, questions, and complaints.
- The types of content, images, assets, and other companies your brand should be associated with.
For employees using social media in their personal lives. This policy should -
- Cover information about what employees can and cannot say about your brand on their personal social media accounts.
- Outline expectations regarding sensitive business information, including product development or other confidential company happenings.
- Establish guidelines for responding to mentions of your brand from their personal accounts.
- Encourage positive sharing and engagement. Highlight the types of content your brand DOES want employees to share. Employees can be some of your best brand advocates, use them to your advantage! Consider appointing a brand ambassador from within your company. With this person’s permission, include examples of how they promote the brand on their social accounts within your policy. This person can also act as a go-to contact when other employees have questions about the brand as it relates to their personal social accounts.
Be sure to get multiple team members from multiple departments (including legal!) involved in the development of the policies. The more collaborative the creation process, the more success you’ll have in getting the policies to stick.
Next, introduce the policies to all employees. Keep in mind that long-standing employees may not take well to new policies, especially if they weren’t involved in the development. Keep the conversation and introduction of policies light and fun. Focus the attention around the positives and benefits, rather than the restrictions and changes.
And finally, keep the policies updated. Social media is constantly changing so your policies should be, too. As other social channels are introduced, new situations arise, and your social media presence grows, keep the policies updated accordingly.
Social media can be one of the best avenues out there to help you build your brand image and develop a loyal customer following. The words “can be” are important here. Why? Because social media can also be the avenue that tarnishes your brand image and turns off potential customers. Getting a good policy in place for your company can help prevent this from happening.
Let me know if the comments below what questions you have about creating, implementing, and using a social media policy for your brand!