Is it time to revisit your company’s social media policy?

SocialMediaWordcloudbigstock640Let’s face it: As a business owner, a social media policy may not be at the forefront of your mind. You wear multiple hats — it may seem hard to find the time to revisit a policy that is already in place! However, without having a solid, well-thought out social media policy, the use of social media in the workplace may have its consequences — and they may not always be positive. Words that are posted on social media can spread like rapid fire, and if both you and your employees are not careful, it may hurt the reputation and image of the company.

So, where do you begin? Let’s take a look at these three steps towards building a better, safer social media policy for your business.

Step 1: Looking at Your Options
It is important to first be aware of the types of social media policies out there. For starters, we can take a look at strict versus relaxed guidelines.

Strict Social Policy
A strict social media policy will be composed of firm guidelines on what can and cannot be posted on social media. It may also have restrictions on WHO is able to post. These types of companies may include rules, such as:

– Only “official” social media coordinators and representatives are allowed to contribute to the brand’s social media page

– A required disclaimer on an employee’s social media pages that lets viewers know that their posts and views are their own, and not those of the company

– Social media use is prohibited in the office

– Employees are not allowed to share company logo and posts on their personal social media page

Relaxed Social Policy
Companies who choose to have a relaxed social media policy are the types of companies that value their employees’ opinions. They encourage the social support from their staff. These companies may put together a social media policy that looks something like this:

– Never publish confidential or sensitive company information

– Always be courteous and respectful

– Use common sense when posting

– Respect the privacy of others

– Never post personal information about individuals without asking for their permission

As you can see, both of these examples are from one extreme to the next. Are you leaning toward one or the other? To be honest, most companies should probably fall somewhere in the middle. This leads us to our next step to designing the perfect social media policy: Finding balance.

Step 2: Finding a Balance
This trick is to find a balance for your company. In some cases, a strict policy may be essential (for instance, a pharmaceutical brand.) However, in the modern day, a balance is best. You want to keep your policy lenient enough to allow for creative and open posts that can give off a good impression to your consumers, but strict enough to avoid any problems that could arise from social media abuse. The last thing your business needs is bad press, right?

In an effort to help you create a balanced policy, here are some things to keep in mind:

– Understand your goals as a company. You must have a clear understanding of your business’ culture and objectives in order to draft up a policy. As long as the policy is in line with your values, you are off to a good start. If you are not sure where to begin, take a look at your company’s mission statement for inspiration.

– Weigh the pros and cons of strict versus lenient. Which way is your company leaning towards? Again, while it is important to keep it strict at times, the companies who disregard and ban social media all together may lose out on the marketing benefits that it has to offer. Keep this is mind while drafting!

– Design a policy with the following in mind: industry, company size, company culture, objectives, and brand.

A successful, balanced social media policy can allow your employees to share quality content and opinions through social media. Overall, this can help your marketing efforts as a company. Now that you have built the perfect policy, it is time to unleash the rules and regulations.

Step 3: Enforcing the Policy
Once the policy is created, it is time to share it with the company. How will you do so? You can hold a company meeting to educate your employees on the new rules and regulations. You may want to print out hard copies of the policy and pass them around for your employees to keep on hand. Whatever way you decide to share your new policy, it is important that you enforce it.

Social media can and should be used to benefit your company through marketing and branding — so enforcing a policy as soon as possible is crucial. Yes, it will take some time and planning, but once it is complete, it will act as a great tool to support your business’ brand. More so, it will keep the reputation that you worked so hard for intact.

John Boudreau, CEO and Co-Founder of Astonish, has been in the insurance marketing and technology business for nearly 10 years.