How to write your firm’s social media policy

Tweet

in ink
Image by late night movie via Flickr

In our last post we looked at why every business needs a social media policy. And the fact that the most important thing for any business is to have a policy in the first place. But if you’re writing your social media policy for employees, what should it include? What kind of guidelines should you give the people who work at your business.

At FreshNetworks, our approach is to keep things simple and to make them inclusive. Have a simple and clear policy on how employees should be using social media and make sure you include your employees in the process of drawing them up. Oh, and make sure your policy encourages your employees to use social media more and not less.

Here are five considerations we discuss with clients when developing their social media policies and guidelines that might help you if you are developing yours:

1. Encourage your employees to take part online

Your best representatives should be your own staff and so any social media policy should actively encourage them to take part online. Show them ways to share their opinions and enter discussions and debates. Encourage them to write a blog if they are keen (and perhaps provide a place for them to do so). Let them become comfortable online because they will be some of your strongest defenders in discussions about your brand.

2. Discourage discussion of what is happening internally

All employees will be privy to discussions, debates, meetings and decisions that are not public knowledge. That might not even be known by many other people in the organisation. Let your employees know that they may learn some things as part of their role that others don’t. And that these are not things you would expect to share with their colleagues over the watercooler, let alone online.

3. Encourage them open and honest about who you are online

The best policy online is openness and honesty. You will be quickly found out if you claim to be something or somebody you are not. Encourage your employees to be open about who they are and who they work for. This is good for them (if they are talking about something related to their work people will credit them with more knowledge). Encourage them to do this even if they are writing about something totally un-workrelated. They should say who they work for, and that what they are saying is nothing at all to do with their job!

4. Discourage arguments and disputes online

It is very difficult in social media to have an argument with somebody. It quickly descends into confusion and conflict. Encourage your employees to take part in debate and discussions but to steer clear of arguments. Whether they are talking about your brand or not it’s best to not to post anything emotional. Wait a day and consider it again.

5. Make sure employees know the best route for their opinions

Many businesses find that their employees use social media to raise issues, concerns or opinions about their employer. This is usually because they don’t know the best way of having their voice heard. Part of your social media strategy should be a clarification of the different routes available for them to have their voice heard. Some things are best aired in social media, and some things will be dealt with a lot quicker and a lot better if you raise them in other ways.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  


For social media agency support get in touch or follow us on Twitter.

19 Comments

  1. Richard Millington:

    Great post. I’m in the process of writing the social media policy up now for an organization with 6300 staff. It’s delicate work.

  2. Matt Rhodes:

    Hi Rich - thanks for your comment. A delicate task indeed…but probably a really useful one.

  3. Bookmarks week 32 en 33 | Bijgespijkerd:

    [...] How to write your firm’s social media policy [...]

  4. Mike Mintz:

    Hi Rich,

    These are good starting principles. I recently worked on refining a social media policy with a very large global organization and there is a tendency to overdraft and be all inclusive. In my experience, the best policies are ones that guide the employee to use social media and common sense together. When writing on behalf of the company it is a very different thing than writing as an individual (and there are ways to differentiate - I always use my personal site and email unless part of corporate reach). In any case, you might want to check out what we are doing on the professional network I manage, Martindale Hubbell Connected. For the next two weeks, we are discussing implementation of social media policies. Seems like it would be a topic you can contribute to. Thanks for this post.

    Mike

  5. Chris Boudreaux:

    For anyone developing or researching social media policies, this database contains links to more than 70, and you can filter by industry:

    http://socialmediagovernance.com/policies.php

  6. links for 2009-08-20 «:

    [...] How to write your firm’s social media policy | FreshNetworks Blog [...]

  7. Alexandra Leisse (troubalex) 's status on Monday, 24-Aug-09 11:48:43 UTC - Identi.ca:

    [...] http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2009/08/how-to-write-your-firms-social-media-policy/ [...]

  8. Laura Dragan (aprilush) 's status on Monday, 24-Aug-09 11:57:50 UTC - Identi.ca:

    [...] http://www.freshnetworks.com/blog/2009/08/how-to-write-your-firms-social-media-policy/ [...]

  9. Our top five posts in August | FreshNetworks Blog:

    [...] 1. How to write your firm’s social media policy [...]

  10. What to do once your firm’s social media policy is written | FreshNetworks Blog:

    [...] couple of weeks ago, we wrote about how to write your firm’s social media policy. How it was important, first and foremost, for firms to have a social media policy. And  that it [...]

  11. Paul:

    We discourage the use of social networking sites during working hours and found our productivity levels shoot through the roof. It just shows how much time is spent on these social media sites nowardays.

  12. raxraxrax.com » Blog Archive » links for 2009-11-08:

    [...] How to write your firm’s social media policy if you’re writing your social media policy for employees, what should it include? What kind of guidelines should you give the people who work at your business. (tags: socialmedia policy strategy web2.0 guidelines media social blogs) [...]

  13. Vodafone, Twitter and the challenges of managing your brand in social media | FreshNetworks Blog:

    [...] posted before about how to write your firm’s social media policy and, perhaps more importantly, what to do once your firm’s social media policy is written. [...]

  14. Charte d’expression sur les médias sociaux et la « 2.0. attitude»  | Choblab - web 2.0, design, e-marketing, outils...:

    [...] How to write your firm’s social media policy [...]

  15. Social Media Strategie 0.9: 10 inspiratiebronnen | Contentgirls:

    [...] je er klaar voor bent om je eigen richtlijnen op papier te zetten, heeft Fresh Networks een handige checklist voor hoe je dat [...]

  16. MarkB:

    Great post! I am with a new online heating oil company (Clickfil) and we are always trying to come up with better ways to use social media to get our message out there. This post is a great starting point for developing a social media policy.

  17. Facebook visited twice as often as Google in the workplace (and why you shouldn’t ban social media at work) | FreshNetworks social media agency blog:

    [...] media can be scary - and  even business needs to write a social media policy. But the basis of this should not be banning things but encouraging people to use things. Your [...]

  18. Social media: Risk and regulation in the financial service industry | Social media agency London | FreshNetworks blog:

    [...] each business should develop a social media policy for employees. The policy should form a  standard part of all employment charters and contracts [...]

  19. Best of Social Media Resources & Guidelines for Education, Literacy and Other Non-Profits « Literacy, Languages and Leadership:

    [...] How to Write Your Firm’s Social Media Policy [...]