Why do I need a social media policy?Written by Kevin Cesarz | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Hold on there, cowboy (or cowgirl). You might have already leapt onto the social media horse. You might already have active social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But do you have a social media policy in place?
Social media can help create a buzz around your brand and help small businesses punch harder, but if used haphazardly or irresponsibly these same tools can damage your marketing efforts and your reputation.
“I knew there was a catch. This social media is dangerous. That’s why we’ll avoid it.”
You can’t avoid it forever and shouldn’t cede this valuable space. This is where your customers live and the place where they are asking questions.
Your company’s social media policy protects you against potential risk when using social media. A social media policy gives your employees parameters and guidelines so they can be more effective voices for your brand.
How big is your communications staff? You might not be able to increase the number of that staff but you could amplify its power to equal the total number of your employees.
By giving your employees a social media policy and guidelines — much like you do with HR and other company policies — you will be empowering them with the tools to answer questions.
There are more than 100 social media policies at Social Media Governance’s online collection. Use these ideas to build your own policy. Yes, Yahoo!, Microsoft and Apple are listed, but you’ll also find guidelines for the U.S. Air Force and Navy, the State of Delaware, the Maryland Association of CPAs, The Cleveland Clinic, Ball State University, The American Institute of Architects, The Walker Art Center and Walmart
If employees are to be effective and successful you must declare acceptable online behaviors and your rules of engagement. Let everybody know what they can and cannot do and the consequences of breaking your social media guidelines.
Learn why “personal” and “private” are different ideas in social media. Remember that a social media status or conversation can be found through search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Even though you may have privacy settings where only your contacts can see what you write, that doesn’t stop your contacts from forwarding what you say to their audience. Consider personal conversation on social media networks to be public rather than private.
Now that your social media policy is displayed on your website and social media pages, you’re saddled up and ready to engage. Take this common sense approach:
Always identify your connection to the brand or company.
Never engage in personal attacks.
Have fun but be smart.
A good social media policy will help you get the most out of your social networking efforts and solidify your reputation as a solid social media citizen.
Kevin Cesarz is the Director of Social Media and Web Project Manager at Thread Marketing Group in Maumee. He writes about social media and content strategy on his blog i scream social (klcesarz.wordpress.com).