When starting a new job or opening a new social media account, everyone skips the fine print at the bottom on the page. Right? Well if you are one of the people that skips the tiny print, you might want to think again before agreeing to anything.
What is a Social Media Policy?
A social media policy which is extremely important to any business, helps employees understand the guidelines in which they are to follow (or at least think about) when posting on social media. According to Hootsuite.com, a social media policy is meant to explain the use of social media in a personal and professional setting. This policy may seem excessive in some ways, but it can help keep the company’s image in a positive light. Without a policy like this, companies could experience backlash for an employee’s controversial opinion, or even something as extreme as a breach in security.
It is important to keep in mind that a social media policy is not put into place to control the employees. Rather it is meant to help keep everyone at the company safe while online. By at least acknowledging and reading the social media policy, employees are able to understand the company’s brand voice and image a little better.
What Belongs in the Policy?
It is important to remember that with every company, comes a different set of rules. However, there are some rules that are found in multiple policies from different companies.
- Have a spokesperson
- Do not break laws when posting online
- Use a disclaimer
- Do not publish misleading information
- Do not share insider information
Since social media is changing constantly, these policies are changed quite often. Each company has different policies in place for their company, and some policies are much more harsh than others. Some companies even include consequences such as being fired if the employee does not follow the rules laid out in the policy.
What does the list mean?
Now that you have the basic understanding of what is put into a social media policy, what do these policies mean? Are they enforced or is it just a standard protocol for the company? Policies like these are actually extremely important, and if an employer chooses not to follow the rules, it could lead to termination from the company (depending on the circumstances).
- Have a Spokesperson
- Every company has a spokesperson for them. If anything were to happen that brings on a negative light to the company, not just anyone should speak out on the topic. This is extremely important because by trying to fix the situation yourself, you could be putting the company in an even deeper hole. When problems arise, having a spokesperson helps keep everything calm and under protocol.
- Do Not Break Laws when Posting Online
- This rule may seem simple, but what a lot of people do not consider when posting online, is that their social media is an extension of a company. So when you take a picture at a bar with a drink in hand and you are not 21, that can come off as unprofessional, and could result in harsher issues.
- Use a Disclaimer
- Many companies require disclaimers whether it be in the post itself or in the bio of the account. A disclaimer helps ensure that when people are viewing a statement from a personal account online, the viewer knows that the opinion does not correlate with the company. This is so important for company employees to follow because if something controversial is talked about on a personal account and it gets out to everyone, the company could be under fire by their customers.
- Do Not Publish Misleading information
- Just like not using a disclaimer, publishing misleading information can cause mistrust between a company and its customers. When going to post something online, make sure it has some sort of proof. Not everything needs this, but say an employee goes to post information about another company, but the information posted is not correct. This can cause issues between the employee’s company and the company being talked about.
- Do Not Share Insider Information
- Although this may seem like a given, words can get out extremely easily. It is so important for employees to take note of this rule. By publishing insider information about a company, a lot can go wrong legally. Any information regarding money or upcoming promotions should also stay confidential.
I think that social media policies are so important to a company. Not only do they help keep the company in a positive light, but it also helps to provide an understanding of how much something posted online can affect you both personally and professionally. I agree with all of the items I bulleted earlier in this article. I think that all five items should be in a social media policy. However, I believe that having a spokesperson is one of the most important ones on the list. I do not think that someone should try to fix the mistake themselves. I think that a spokesperson will handle an issue professionally, and the problem will be resolved much faster. I personally think it is so easy to forget that our social media, regardless of if it is a personal account or not, is an extension of the company we work for. Everything online stays online, so by having a social media policy, companies are able to help keep issues under control.
Social media should remain fun for everyone to use. It is a place where people can go and watch memes, catch up on the news, and chat with their friends. A social media policy is not meant to be restrictive with what you can do online. It is so easy for people to brush over the pages that they sign when joining a new company. Social media policies are important in every aspect. From just basic knowledge to knowing what you can and cannot talk about online, a social media policy is clear and concise. With social media constantly changing, it is important to keep up with the best way to be seen in a professional but informal way online.