Yikes! You Have No Social Media Policy?

Small business to large enterprises, the embrace of social outlets like Twitter and Facebook have exploded over the past few years. However, with the explosion of brand’s ever-growing online conversation came a growing number of social media disasters. We all remember the infamous @KitchenAidUSA fiasco.

Avoiding and minimizing online liabilities that could lead to costly damage control campaigns and HR nightmares is both simple, complex and common sense. Perhaps most notably in big business, investing in the right advertising agency is an insurance policy against unintentional Twitter or Facebook leaks. But for small businesses’ who look to recent college grads, interns and even independent social media professionals it is key to have a social media policy in place to product you just in case.

Social media policies provide guidelines as to what individuals who have access to your social media should and shouldn’t do when interacting as your brand online. Policies can act as either information or legal resources by which your community managers go about their job.Whether legal or informational, social media policies give your community managers a chance to think more about the strategic marketing vision and less about company policy compliance.

As a matter of fact, company culture is perhaps the most important attribute of your social media strategy. Much like you train your salesmen to interact with prospective clients in order to control the buying experience, it is important to control the conversations that happen over your social media outlets. As such, it is important to keep in mind that no two social media policies will be alike. As a matter of fact, using a template would be grave disservice to your business. When crafting your social media policy it is important to consider your company culture, goals, strategic vision and values as your social media outlets are extensions of your business’ voice and business strategy. Doing so allows you to give your community manager the same training and guidelines you give to your sales team and keep your brand experience consistent across all mediums.

Beyond company culture, social media policies identify who’s in charge of what, who’s the leader, guidelines on what to/not to say, policies for responding to non-compliant social media posts, enrichment and reward for good social media posts, privacy and copyright. Geeze! What a windy list of components found in a social media policy!

So if tomorrow your in house community manager decides to post something you deem inappropriate, what would you do? What could you do under your current company policies? And finally, what are you risking should you choose to terminate your relationship with your community manager from a legal liabilities perspective?

Did you even know that the National Labor Relations Board issued guidance to human resource professionals for lawful creation of such policies?

Happy community managers who understand their company’s vision on social media is a recipe for success. As a matter of fact, a good social media policy sets the stage for a vibrant show that everyone will be talking about. If you don’t believe us, perhaps you should contact the folks at Oreo and inquire as to their Super Bowl social media gold.