Social media involves people talking to people; the only difference between traditional media and social media is where the conversation is taking place.
Similar to sending out a press release or taking out an advertisement, social media is a communication tool which can and should be used to promote your organisation’s work.
While there are many positives for using social media, there is the ever-present risk of reputation damage caused by the misuse of social media, or by issues that rapidly escalate via the global reach of social media.
No organisation is immune from these risks and is at greater risk without such a plan or policy in place. The important thing to remember is that the conversation will happen regardless of whether or not you’re on social media.
Here are a few ideas for creating your own social media policy…
Create a social media plan
Outline the risks and benefits of using social media for your organisation. You may also want to include any research that you’ve carried out, such as internal audits or evidence of social media use in your organisation to support your claims. Depending on the size of your organisation, you may need this document for upper management approval. Don’t forget to include any outcomes or objectives as a result of this document.
Write out your social media guidelines
It’s entirely up to you what you call it, however it may make things easier to call your social media policy a set of “guidelines” instead, as it may make things easier when introducing them to staff.
Your organisation’s social media policy should include the following sections:
- State who the social media policy is for
- Key principles of acceptable behaviour
- Be transparent online
- Research topics in full and provide accurate information
- Provide constructive feedback
- Respect the law
- Off-limits and sensitive information
- Appropriate behaviour
- Friends and connections
- Dealing with any press or other media enquiries
- Link to additional guidance and support
- Where possible, reference existing policies and procedures already place, such as:
– Electronic Communication Policy
– Data Protection Policy
– Complaints Procedure
– Disciplinary Procedure
Don’t forget to consult existing comms and digital teams if you have them in-house, or external PR and marketing agencies that you may be using.
Guidelines for implementing the guidelines or policy
Once you’ve created your social media policy, you need a plan on how to implement it.
Depending on the size of your organisation, this may be a straight forward process or it may be difficult. It will also vary depending on how many social media channels that you use. For example – a small business may only have one or two, while a university or larger organisation may have 10s… may be even hundreds.
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