While everyone understands the power and importance of good engagement on social media, liability and bad PR opportunities becomes the forefront of many marketers’ minds.  How does one engage, interact with the world and still keep the house in order?  More importantly, how does one keep employees from letting the cat out of the bag, irking off potentials customers or blowing away a bunch of branding effort with a swipe of the keyboard?

One of the best things a business can do to protect itself is create a social media policy to be read and signed by everyone involved with social media.  This post provides a free social media policy template to help you to get up and running in a prudent yet interactive fashion!

Social Media Policy

The purpose of the Social Media policy to provide guidance in the use of social media in terms of content and delivery.  As social media becomes more prevalent in the marketing efforts, special attention must be made when engaging and interacting with customers and potential customers.  While all social media content should reflect the individual contributor, it should also serve to increase and improve brand awareness and current/potential customer relations.

  1. Content
    1. The content must be purposeful and relevant to the subject matter of the core business.  While industry observations, current events and company insights are all important content generators, everything should relate to main objectives of the marketing strategy.
    2. All content must be of a positive nature.  No derogatory remarks, slurs or demeaning expressions.  Most notably, any commentaries of competitors and geographical locations must be avoided.
    3. Be sure to include your name,  title and  company name whenever possible.
    4. Respect all copyrights and fair use policies by giving credit to all quoted or borrowed material.
    5. All confidential and proprietary information must not be included in any social media communications Ensure that any social media content does not cover any proprietary information or oversharing.  This includes roadmaps of features or research and development projects.  All customer information must also be kept absolutely confidential.
    6. Ensure all social media content brings value to the audience.  Solving problems, assurances and thought leadership are primary ways of making social media content relevant and important.   Overall all social media content should be delivered in such a way that the combined topics can be comprised of the following general guidelines:
      1. Problem solving  40%
      2. Thought leadership 25%
      3.  Relevant current events  25%
      4. Product plugs/Marketing 10% (this does not include comments done in external social media)
    7. Use good judgement.  Ensure that expressed opinions are based on fact and statistics can be researched.  Avoid any slander or provocative comments  that may offend someone.
  2. Responses to negative feedback
    1. Do not delete negative outside feedback or comments.  All negative feedback must be responded to in one of the following fashions;
      1. Apologetic if anyone was offended by a social media comment or topic.  While all content should be of a positive nature, it is hard to judge the sensitivities of your audience.  Do not hesitate to admit fault or mistakes and show empathy and kindness in your tone.  This needs to be done immediately.
      2. Firm, if a comment provided is obviously wrong or simply slanderous, be soft in tone but do stick to the facts and try to lighten the situation as to why the original content said what it said and provide any supporting references if possible.  Avoid any aggressive tones.
      3. Helpful, try to solve the problem or investigate what went wrong and let the other party be aware that their concerns have been taken easily.
  3. Personal social media
    1. While the lines of social media often blur between personal and professional content, all policies herein also pertain to all personal social media accounts while in the employ of the company.
  4. Content Pre-Release
    1. All content should be double checked for relevancy and grammatical correctness by the social media approval process.   This includes final approval by Marketing and/or communications representatives
    2. All content should be verified by a spell checker and by re-reading the content aloud.  While this may sound odd, reading aloud content is an effective way of double checking grammar and content flow.