Social Media Policy - 5 Principles to Remember

by Corey Creed on Jun 09, 2010

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In my last post, we discussed the differences between a social media policy and a social media plan.

Now let’s move on to 5 important principles to keep in mind regarding creating a social media policy for your business.  I hope you will add your thoughts in the comments if there is anything I have missed.

1.  Be Positive

Try to focus on what the employee CAN do, instead of what they CAN’T do.  This can be tricky.  After all, one of the main reasons for a social media policy is to explain the consequences of inappropriate behavior.

Yet, that is not the true nature of social media.  We want employees to use social media in a proper way, not scare them away.

2.  Don’t get too detailed

Try to focus on principles rather than rules, where possible.

Be especially careful not to focus on specific technologies or websites.  The world of social media and the popular sites are always changing.  If you get too specific, your policy will quickly be out of date and not be taken seriously.

3.  Be specific where necessary

At first, this seems to contradict the previous point.

However, when it comes to legal matters and other important issues, you will need to be specific.  Include your legal team as necessary.

4.  Include a cover letter

Unfortunately, your social media policy will have a fair amount of rules and regulations.  It can also be complicated to understand.  For that reason, it can seem cold, complicated, and perhaps even unfair.

That’s not what social media is supposed to be.

Therefore, many companies include a cover letter or an opening paragraph that is more positive, less specific, and encourages the use of social media.

Another option that my colleague (and Social Fresh presenter) Lisa Hoffmann encourages is to create a separate set of “social media guidelines” to supplement the official policy.

5.  Connect your other policies

As appropriate, you may wish to reference your policy for Internet/Mobile phone usage or other official documents.  Some businesses simply include the social media policy in with the other standard documents that each employee needs to review when hired.

The one difference with social media is that you may need employees review it once every year or so.  Why?  The use of social media is growing very fast.  Some individuals that may even know what social media is may start using it within the next year.

What’s Next?

Creating a social media policy is something new and unique to most businesses right now.  Therefore, I welcome your comments, thoughts and/or questions.

If you have made one or are planning to, please add any comments below on what principles you feel are important.  Please also feel free to reach out to me personally.

Next week I’ll post a sample social media policy.

Post Author

Corey Creed was the Director of Training for Social Fresh. He worked closely with the Social Fresh Academy and other online and offline training initiatives for Social Fresh. He has also served as the President of HIPPO Internet...