5 Practical Tips: Implementing a Social Media Policy at your organization

You and your organization get it… You need to be on social media.

But how do you protect your organization’s brand and voice and also get a whole bunch of people in your organization using social media? How do people know what is and isn’t acceptable to post? How does the brand voice stay unified? What happens when someone gets too rowdy who isn’t part of the org?

You need a social media policy.

A social media policy defines your team’s roles, rules and responsibilities and establishes guidelines to communicate consistently. It also lets your team know how to prevent or respond to a crisis.

These policies can range from simple to complicated. It really depends on how much you, the communications director or other person-in-charge needs to dictate. Our policy is: post things that our clients and potential clients will find interesting and useful. Also, don’t be a jerk.

Here are 5 practical tips to get you started on your own Social Media Policy.

1. Focus on things you have “some control” over

Make three columns on a piece of paper and add the following headlines for each: Control, Some Control, No Control. Fill up the table with social media assets and channels.

Example:

You know you have control over your website and blog, and you know you can’t change what people say about you on other people’s blogs or websites. But when developing a social media policy, focus on the things you have “Some Control” over.

Although you may not have the final say on these things, you can influence them. Often times organizations fail to prevent a crisis because they do not pay attention to the “Some Control” list.

For example, you can write guidelines on how to respond to comments on your blog: tone of voice, answering complaints, or addressing other issues. Or, your policy might focus on moderating comments: the kinds we allow and disallow on the blog. You might have both, with one policy for internal moderation and another for public use. You might want to explain to your readers that the blog comments will be managed and if they will appear right away or if they are screened.

2. Anticipate engagements and set rules and guidelines

Once you’ve created your lists, start anticipating how you will be engaging online by identifying scenarios (both best and worst case) and write a set of rules to establish guidelines for people to follow.

Example:

3. Establish your culture, values and voice

Staff that communicates on social should always reflect your organization’s culture, values and voice. You should establish this briefly in your social media policy so that your tweets, blog posts and even comments set a tone that is consistent with your social image and brand. Establishing values and voice also sets parameters and helps your staff make judgments about what they are to communicate.

Write a list of words that will help set the tone for content that your staff can follow.

Example:

If you hadn’t guessed, this is ours at LimeRed.

4. Provide Examples

To illustrate your policies, rules and guidelines further, provide your staff examples of tweets, comments and things to share on social media.

Example:

5. Keep it short and concise

Finally, keep your policy short. You want your team to actually read the document, learn from it and apply it. It’s shouldn’t be a chore. Some of the biggest brands in the world have very short and concise social media policies. Think of it as something your team can print up and keep handy on their desk for a quick reference. Your Social Media Policy is also a living document and will grow and change as your organization and trends in social media change. It should adapt and be amended as you build your experience communicating online.

Final Thoughts

Don’t go about this process alone. Try to include your team through the process and design an experience that is inclusive and encourages communication across your organization. Your intern, all the way up to your executive director should understand the value of your Social Media Policy. It will help improve your social media communications as well as how you and your team will communicate internally.

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