Does your business have a social media policy?

Written on the 9 March 2010

With the popularity of Facebook and Twitter these days, it's highly likely your team members are using social networking websites.  You probably are too!

But do you have any rules in place for how your team uses social networking?  There is a lot of potential for damage to your business if social media is not managed properly, so you need to have a social media policy in place.  Your policy should outline what is acceptable use of social networking by your employees in relation to your company.

Accessing social media

Before you get too hung up on blocking access for everyone in your office, think about the value that social media could add to your business.  If Twitter or Facebook could be valuable for communicating with your customers then it's a good idea to set up profiles and get someone in your office to manage it - so therefore there is no point blocking access. 

Instead you need to decide how you want to use these tools, then set some clear, realistic boundaries:

  • Designate someone to manage your presence on social media
  • Come up wth guidelines on what they are allowed to tweet or post about (eg. company news, specials, sharing helpful links and articles, technical support etc.)
  • Make it clear that they aren't allowed to access their personal profiles on work computers

That last point is very important, because it's very easy for an employee to slip up and post something personal on your business profile.  One Westpac employee found this out the hard way - 

What staff do in their own time is still your business...

As well as controling how your team members access social networking in the work environment, you also need to have some rules in place for how they use it in their own time.  It's essential that they don't share information about your business or your customers on their own private profiles. 

For example, it's not acceptable for them to go home from work and rant about a customer on their Facebook profile.  That could be really damaging to your relationship with the client and for your brand reputation.

Writing your policy

Now that you've had a bit of a think about how you want to use social media in your business and what you expect from your team, you need to write your policy.  It can just be a Word Document that you type up yourself, get all employees to sign a copy of and keep it on your intranet or network so it can be referred back to at any time.

Here are some tips:

  • List which social media websites you are referring and allow the scope for others to included
  • Keep it positive by explaining what they can do, not just what they can't do
  • If you are getting your team to manage your business profile, set guidelines on the tone they should use and what information they can post
  • Remember to protect confidential and proprietary information

Ask your consultant if you would like some tips on maximising social media.