Do You Have a Social Media Policy?

At AHA, we’ve been busy drafting strategic communications plans for several clients. One of the questions we ask in preparing to write these plans focuses on the area of social media – on social media policy, specifically. We ask if their organization has one. More often than not, the answer is no. And that’s okay; we’re here to help with that. The answer that we sometimes get, however, is a question: “Do we really need one?” The answer is always a resounding yes.

A while back, we worked with a client who was concerned about putting a social media policy out to employees. This company is multinational and was struggling with its identity, partially because it didn’t have a strong brand promise or a way to authentically deliver one if they had it, but also because of additional challenges. In each area (not just each country), the offices were given a great deal of freedom to do what they thought was best. This worked well in some regions, not so well in others. And none of the efforts came together in any cohesive fashion. Work was duplicated or not done at all. It was chaotic. We identified not one, but four different Facebook pages and five Twitter accounts. What’s worse, they did not have consistent positioning or messaging and sometimes even the information they shared contradicted itself.

It was a mess. There were small pockets of people who had – with good intentions – taken on social media as a part of their role. Unfortunately, many of these people did not have a communications background; they were more junior than senior and they didn’t see past the tactic or the tool. There was no strategy applied to what they were doing. In one instance, someone was sharing confidential information about the organization via Twitter and Facebook thinking that they were showcasing an organizational success. What they shared had not yet been announced and it created huge issues for the people working on the project.

Whether you are a big or small organization – you need a social media policy. You need to identify and communicate to everyone who works with you (staff, contractors and even vendors) what is and is not acceptable to share via social media. If you don’t do this, you will have no one to blame but yourself when something goes sideways in this area.

I found an article about developing a social media policy on Ragan.com that is worth a read. It will give you some idea of what you need to include in yours.

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