Using social media to communicate with other businesses is both a blessing and curse. When done right, it offers exceptional ROI, but when an organization takes a careless approach, it can be left with a PR nightmare that keeps on giving. Having a solid social media policy in place makes all the difference.

What to consider with your social media policy

Even the most conscientious employees can struggle with how to use social media on behalf of the company, and what’s appropriate or not when posting to the brand handles. That’s why it’s important to clearly define your social media policy. And no surprise, all good social policies revolve around who, what, when, and where.

Who is posting?

Not everyone in your organization is made for social media, but you can expect that most are still active on social, posting about any variety of things. This doesn’t mean they should be posting for your organization. Instead, define which employees can  create posts and share on the company’s social media handles.

Besides the marketing team, look to include someone from customer service that understands acceptable/unacceptable responses to service complaints/concerns and escalation protocol… plus how to translate all that into social media communication. And prepare in advance for inbound sales and product inquiries by identifying who in those respective departments can appropriately and effectively respond on social.

What are you posting?

Defining your brand’s persona and voice on social media is important. If your brand is buttoned up and serious and someone posts a rock-n-roll cat meme, you’ll look silly (yes, even though the internet loves cats). Likewise, some enterprises are making the mistake of jumping in on politics and alienating members of their target audience… so having a conversation with your CEO and defining your company’s stance on such things is more than a good idea. Don’t forget to also clearly define appropriate uses of company branding, logos, and information.

When are you posting?

A consistent approach to social media is either overlooked – or conversely, it becomes a hyper-focus. Neither does well for your organization. Instead, create an editorial calendar that lays out themes and upcoming promotions or events to plan for, and brainstorm around those well ahead of time to implement thoughtful, impactful campaigns. You also need to create a schedule for posting on social sites and stick to it – particularly blogging. No one likes an inconsistent blog. But that doesn’t mean you just grab things to post because the clock says so. Curating content takes time and effort, be sure to do it well.

Where are you posting?

Your company doesn’t need to be on every social media platform – or does it? For B2B brands, Twitter and LinkedIn are table stakes. And having a social approach for Facebook may make sense, too. But what about Instagram, Google+, Snapchat, Reddit, and Quora? It’s a question you need to think through before developing your posting schedule, as stops and starts or random posting looks awful. If your business is new to social media, then start with one social platform and do it well… and then branch out to others when you’re ready!

Employees have rights, too

Keep in mind that employees have legal rights allowing them to do what they wish on social media and elsewhere when they’re not on the clock. That means creating policies that expressly forbid behaviors during their free time is ill advised. Granted, they may make social slip-ups that come with consequences… but unless it goes against what your organization represents, respectfully expressing viewpoints you disagree with does not rise to the dismissal standard.

No one expects a person sharing offensive, discriminatory posts to stay on your payroll, but you should specify, with examples, precisely what sort of behavior is not allowed. Ambiguity is not your friend. An employee can call out your organization for creating a hostile environment – or even berate a boss unless your policy states otherwise.

Just keep in mind, anyone communicating as your company is your company. Having discussions about expectations early and often is smart business.

What’s the bottom line? The more you stick to your social media policy, the less likely mistakes will occur!

Still want some help getting a solid social media strategy in place at your business? Give us a call, or drop us a line at hello at leadtail dot com!