Creating a social media policy

Social media policy and guidelines - jessicaquinn.caYou’ve heard me say it before, and I’ll say it again: planning your social media strategy is soooo important! In order to be successful, this is something you must do, and you should do it before you get started in SM marketing. Creating an SM policy is a very important step in the planning process for any business or organization and I think it warrants some discussion here.

When I use the term “policy,” I use that to refer to both policy and guidelines. In general, I think of policy as “what you can’t do” and guidelines as “what you can do” – and it’s important to provide both to your employees. Although, nobody really likes a policy – they’re usually boring and leave people feeling policed and restricted. Guidelines on the other hand should be helpful and inviting, making people feel like their participation is wanted and appreciated.

A policy tells your employees all the things that should be common sense (but unfortunately isn’t always) – be professional and respectful, for example. But there are creative ways to do this. Australia’s Department of Justice does a really good job with their policy – they created a video to showcase the top 10 main points from their policy – a method in the social media spirit to hit their points home. Check it out here:

Guidelines on the other hand will serve to tell your staff how you want them to interact with your business’s social media platforms, as well as encourage them to participate. They are (or should be) your brand’s number one ambassadors after all. Do you want them to comment? Do you want them to share posts to their personal accounts? How do they do this? What would the purpose be? Keep in mind many employees probably don’t know some of the basic principles of Facebook marketing or Twitter conversations, for example, so some quick points on the goals of each platform you’re active in would probably be helpful and a good thing to include in these guidelines.

Be sure you have all the right people at the table to talk about this (here’s a great infographic with thoughts on who these people are). Think about how you want your employees to help you on SM – what would be the best approach for them (for example, on Twitter)? And of course, you need to determine what your main strategy in being involved in SM is in the first place before you can ask other people to help you (e.g. why do you have a Facebook fan page?).

Creating either of these doesn’t have to be hard. Some tips:

  • Talk to people in your organization. What do they want to see? How do they want to participate.
  • Consult your organization’s mission/vision statement and strategic plan. How does your online activity fit in with the overall strategic goals and your marketing strategy?
  • Think creatively. What can you develop that will have an impact on your employees?
  • Be clear. Clarity is often underrated.
  • Check out this slideshare for more great tips.
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