Today it’s necessary for brands to have a social media presence. After all, social platforms are often the first contact potential customers have with a business. Customers turn to social platforms to find out about brands, get help with issues, and even to shop. But in a world that is hyper-connected, bad online interactions can quickly cause damage to brand image.
The importance of a social media policy
The internet can be an unforgiving place when it comes to mistakes. Billions of people use social media every day—and its only increasing. Your business’ posts can have global reach. And some social media slipups can lead to a flood of angry people.
For example, appliance manufacturer Miele misstepped with a social media post celebrating International Women’s Day. In the picture shared on Facebook, four women are celebrating getting a washer and dryer while sitting on the appliances with cake and confetti. The caption read: “May all women remember to embrace what makes them unique! Happy International Women’s Day!” In the end, this post missed the mark and ended up offending potential clients. A policy should highlight to avoid sexist (and other sensitive) material.
A social media policy can help your business avoid social media disasters. And it can direct staff when blunders do occur.
Having a social media policy can let employees know what a business expects from them—and what they should avoid. It can also help prevent any legal or security issues.
What is a social media policy?
A social media policy guides and advises employees handling your company’s social accounts.
It is an up-to-date and straightforward document that informs your business’ social media use. Social media continually changes. So your policy needs to be revised regularly to remain relevant. You also want to organize your policy so that employees can easily read and understand it. To do this, keep it simple, clear, accessible, and continually updated. It should protect the company and set boundaries for the employees (but also encourage them).
Dell’s social media policy is an example of an easy to understand and current document. It lays out its central social media policies clearly on the sidebar:
1.) Protect Information
2.) Be Transparent and Disclose
3.) Follow the Law, Follow the Code of Conduct
4.) Be Responsible
5.) Be Nice, Have Fun, and Connect
Dell then explains these policies in greater detail inside the document.
So, why should you have a social media policy?
An official policy can help you:
- Let your staff know what they can and cannot post
- Maintain a consistent brand image across social platforms
- Outline private or confidential information
- Emphasize your brand’s voice
- Defend against security risks and legal issues
- Protect your reputation
- Describe what to do in case of an emergency
- Provide advice on what employees can post on their personal accounts
When using social media for business, it’s crucial to stay professional. Harmful communications risk leaving the wrong impression on your audience. Respectable social media behavior builds your reputation and increases your following (and it won’t lose customers). Providing a company social media policy and training on what staff and should—and should not—post can keep your brand image consistent and professional.