Whenever I speak with a client or group about social media, a question inevitably comes up is how to monitor and regulate employees’ participation online. What are the rules of engagement? It’s an important question and one that should be answered in advance of launching a company blog, Facebook page, twitter account or any other form of social media. By having a clearly articulated social media policy in place, you can avoid the pitfalls that often arise in the wild, wild west of social media.
Here are five elements of an effective social media policy:
1. Define It and Sell It
- Make sure your employees understand social media. Don’t presume they “get it.”
- Define your goals for participating and mandate that employees’ online activity support these goals.
- Sell employees on why they should participate and how both they and the company will benefit.
2. Determine Rules of Engagement
- Who participates? All employees or a select few?
- How often are employees required to post online?
- Define SM venues where employees can and can’t participate.
- Is participation mandatory or optional?
- Be transparent – names should be attached to all postings.
- Be generous – support your online friends; engage in conversations; give credit where it is due when sharing information.
- Appoint a SM czar. Employees need an internal resource who can address questions and concerns, review topic ideas, etc.
3. Write What You Know
Employees are often intimidated by social media and are reluctant to participate. Overcome this by simply writing what you know. Each person in an organization contributes skills and knowledge. Share your particular expertise.
4. Customize to Your Unique Needs
Social media policies are not one-size fits all. Companies should customize policies to the unique characteristics of their industry. For example, schools need to determine if teachers can friend students on Facebook, and high tech companies need to restrict sensitive data.
5. Update Policy Often
Technology changes at lightening speed. And online conversations are organic. For both of these reasons, social media policies should be updated often to ensure they remain relevant.