Social media is transforming how companies market themselves and communicate with their customers. Now that the borders between personal and professional interaction are blurring it’s more important than ever to provide guidelines to ensure that the needs of both your employees and business are respected.
The technological advanced witnessed globally in the past decades has changed how people communicate. Initially, people relied on the mainstream media, letters and phone calls to communicate with others. However, technology has made communication easier and available to a broader population.
Although technology has numerous positive contributions to communication, it has various negative effects on individuals and businesses. For instance, it is difficult to control what people share on different communication platforms and its authenticity.
Social media is the leading communication platform globally, thanks to growth in technology. Key social media platforms where people share information include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat among others.
Although social media has taken over both formal and informal communication, lack of adequate regulation is still a big challenge. People have a behavior of sharing fake news or mere rumors on social media without caring about its effects on other people.
False information shared on social media has detrimental effects on individuals and organizations. This made it necessary for business organizations to establish policies to control how their employees use social media platforms. These policies stipulate how employees can use social media, where to use it and the type of information they can write about their employer.
Essential, every business organization should have a social media policy to control the behavior of employees on social media platforms. The objective the policy is to ensure that employees treat each other people and the organization with respect as they interact and share and share information on social media.
Understanding social media platforms
Social media platforms refer to all online platforms where people have social interactions. It does not matter whether people interact formally or informally on these platforms. These platforms include chat rooms, blogs, online forums, wikis, electronic newsletters, message boards, and social networking sites.
However, social networking sites are the most common social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Even business organizations use them to communicate with their customers, employees and to market their products.
Unfortunately, not all people behave responsibly on social media or use it for a good cause. A substantial number of social media users are reckless about what they post and share on social media platforms.
For instance, it is common for employees to share information about their workplaces on social media. Sometimes workers can share misleading or damaging information about their workplace on social media, thus ruining its reputation.
A social media policy helps organizations to protect their reputation by regulating what appropriate and inappropriate for employees to post social media platforms about the company.
More so, the policy helps employees to comprehend how they can use social media to achieve organizational goals and personal fulfillment.
Do business organizations really need a social media policy?
The question of whether all business organizations need to have social media policy has no specific answer. Some people argue social media policy is important for big companies and online businesses. Others argue that small organizations do not need social media platforms because they operate within a small region.
However, that is not the case because every organization should have a social media policy. An organization may not have a social media platform but it needs to control what its employees post about the company on their social network accounts. Essentially, social media policy is a vital tool for every organization irrespective of whether it uses social media or not.
Studies show that most of the employees from organizations that do not have a social media account have individual accounts.
For instance, about 72% of the American population uses at least one social media platform. Unfortunately, about 63% of the population stated that their employers have no social media policy. This means that most of the social media users can post whatever they want about their employers on social networks. This is risky because companies have a reputation to safeguard.
What is a social media policy?
Now that you understand how the importance of having a social media policy for your business, it is important to understand what it is and its key components. A social media policy is a set of rules, dos and don’ts, which regulate the behavior of employees on social media. In a company, not everyone has the authority to post things online on behalf of the company.
More so, those who have the authority to do so should post and share information that is not harmful to the company and its stakeholders. A social medial policy, guides, restricts and inspires employees to behave in a certain manner on social media, especially on matters concerning their employer. It also helps business organizations to prevent security and legal issues that could arise because of the misuses of social media platforms.
Some media managers define social media policy as a set of rules that business organizations use to regulate how employees behave online.
It not only helps an organization to maintain its reputation but also encourages employees to share positive information about their employer on social networks.
Employees are likely to behave responsibly online if their employer has established laws to regulate them. However, companies should be cautious when developing social media platforms to avoid frustrating their employees or interfering with their freedom of expression.
Strategic development managers define social media policy as a live/active document that regulates how an organization and its employees use social media. It controls how employees use social media while at the workplace and away from work, especially when discussing matters affecting their employer.
Social media policy also regulates how a company uses its official social networks to achieve organizational goals. It requires regular updates because social media usage and organizational needs keep changing.
Key benefits of a social media policy to a business organization
Initially, it was unnecessary to have a business/company social medial policy because social media did not exist. However, growth in technology has made social media an important aspect of modern people social life. Over 50% of human communication and interaction in the 21st century take place on social media platforms.
Originally, social media was a platform for informal communication. Today trends have changed and modern businesses are using it to communicate with employees, customers, and potential customers. Essential, social media is a strong communication tool in the 21st century but it requires adequate regulation.
Social media issues are also common in modern society because some people and businesses misuse social media. Having an official social media policy can help companies to overcome issues that arise from social media misuse and take advantage of its benefits. The following are key benefits that businesses that have an up to date social media policy enjoy.
Preventing security breach
Many people violate data security policies because of the lack of formal policies to empower social media users. A social media policy can help business organizations to avoid security breach by enlightening employees about dos and don’ts when using social media. That way, employees are aware of acceptable behavior and things they can post on social media about their employer.
Enhances consistency across all channel
A formal social media policy enables business organizations to remain consistency about what they post on social media platforms. The policy specifies the person mandated to post information on social media on behalf of the company. This ensures that customers and other stakeholders get the same information across all social media channels.
It encourages employees to use social media responsibly
Social media has both positive and negative effects on users. Negative effects arise when people misuse social media. Business organizations that have a formal social media policy are able to guide the workers on how they can use social media responsibly.
That way, employees use social media to share positive information about their employer. Employer-employee conflicts reduce when employees become responsible on social media, thus building the brand’s reputation.
Social media policy create legal awareness
Posting and sharing detrimental messages about other people and organizations can result in costly legal issues. Many people are not aware of the legal consequences of the information they share on social media.
Having a formal social media policy creates legal awareness among employees about the effects of the information they post and share on social media.
It Prevents PR crisis
Many business organizations experience a PR crisis because they are not consistent in how they use social media platforms. Some companies do not have policies to regulate how employees can use social media to build a brand’s reputation and who should do it.
This causes confusion because sometimes employees post and share varying information about their employer on social media. However, it is possible to avoid such challenges by establishing a formal social media policy to guide the behavior of employees on online platforms.
It provides a guide for solving security breach
A social media policy does not have full control over how employees behave on social media. However, it serves as a guide for solving security breach issues internally and externally. Business organizations rely on the content of their social media policy to punish employees whenever they misbehave on social media platforms.
Developing a social media policy for your business
Now that you understand the importance of having a social medial policy, do you know how you can draft one for your business?
Well, there are various options to choose from depending on the available resources and time. The first option is drafting the social media policy for your business yourself. This option is suitable for small businesses. However, policies could have mistakes if the person drafting them has no experience about developing policies and procedures.
The second option is hiring a professional, a business lawyer, to draft a social media policy for your business. This is important for big businesses that need social media policies, which comply with local and international data protection laws.
For instance, companies that operate internationally require social media policies that conform to the laws of countries where they operate.
The third option is using online social media generators to draft a customized or general policy for your business. There are numerous online generators, which business owners can use to draft formal social media policies.
Some of these generators provide free platforms while other requires users to pay to access premium features. All that you need is to Google search for social media policy generators and choose the one that suitable for your business needs.
Five Key Factors to consider when choosing a social media policy generator
Effectiveness/Efficiency of the generator
The quality of a social media policy generator determines the quality of the policy produce. Therefore, it is important to choose an effective social media and efficiency, irrespective of whether they offer a free or paid platform. It is prudent to spend some money on an effective generator than use a free one and get a bogus social media policy.
The affordability of a social media policy is a key factor to consider, especially for a small businesses working with a limited budget. Some social media policy generators offer free platforms while others require users to pay to access premium features.
A business owner can save some money by choosing a free generator as long as it has the desired features. In a situation where you have to use a paid generator, it is prudent to choose the one that is effective and with affordable rates.
Although numerous social media policy generators promise excellent services, whether free of charge or at a fee, some of them are bogus. It is good to look for a generator that is reliable to avoid putting your business into more risks.
For, instance, a reliable generator should offer supports services and social media policies that comply with the existing data protection laws. It is wise to ascertain whether a given social media generator will give you a valid policy before investing your money on it.
Flexibility is another important factor to consider when choosing a social media policy generator. Always go for a generator that easy use and access.
Business owners should also choose a generator that enables them to produced customized social media policies based on business needs. This is very important because different businesses have varying needs when it comes to the use of social media.
Reviews by previous users
It is difficult to tell whether a certain social media policy generator is a reliable one before using it. However, sometimes it is expensive and not the best thing to learn from one’s mistakes.
Every social media policy generator found online claims that they develop the best policies but that is not always of the case. Some of them are bogus and amounts to a waste of time and resources.
Why business owners should use social media policy generator?
Although business owners have the option of drafting a social media policy for their business manually, it is advantageous to use an online social media policy generator.
First, generators are quick and businesses get instant policies for their business. All that you need to fill an online form and the software will handle the other part.
Additionally, social media policy generators are easy to use and efficient than drafting the policy manually. You do not have to spend hours brainstorming about the best policy template for your business.
Some generators provide a wide selection of templates for users to choose from based on their business needs. Others are customizable and it is easy for users to develop policies that are tailor-made for their businesses.
Social media policy generators eliminate room for errors when drafting a social media policy. It is common for humans to make mistakes and some can be costly. However, social media policy generators have a high degree of accuracy and users are certain of a flawless policy document.
This saves business owners costs and legal issues associated with using a fault social media policy or that does not comply with the prevailing data protection laws. Generally, using a social media policy generator is beneficial than drafting the drafting it manually.
Steps for generating and implementing a social media policy
There are various steps to follow when developing a social media policy using a generator or manually. They help in ensuring that the developed social media policy reflects business needs and interests.
Identifying the organization’s social media needs
The first step when developing social media needs is identifying the organization’s existing and anticipated needs. The organization or the person developing social media policy should conduct a thorough investigation of prevailing needs and ensure the policy responds to them. An effective policy should help the organization to use social media to achieve its goals and objectives.
The second step is identifying the person or a group of people responsible for developing social media policy. This is essential to avoid confusions in the company and ensuring there is someone to hold responsible for the task of developing the policy. In big organizations, managers can select group of employees from different departments to participate in developing social media policy.
Researching for support services
Different countries have varying laws that regulate the use of social media and data protection. Therefore, it is prudent to collect relevant information about legal obligations in your area and update the policy regularly. Sometimes it essential to consult a legal professional to ensure the social media policy comply with the prevailing laws.
Drafting the social media policy
The process of drafting a social media policy can be either manual or using a social media policy generator. However, the policy should not be too long, too short or too complex for its implementers. It should also reflect interests of employees and those of the organization at large.
Midway review and consultation
It is essential to review the social media policy and consult relevant stakeholders for approval if the policy. For the policy document to be effective, it requires the support of all stakeholders, especially employees who are responsible for the routine activities of the organization. Groups to consult when developing a social media policy include beneficiaries, supporters, employees and the management team among others.
Finalizing and approving the policy
Once the generated social media policy is reviewed and relevant parties consulted, the next stage is to finalize and approve the policy. It is important to identify the person responsible for approving the policy.
This could the management committee or a representative selected by the management team. In many organizations, it is the responsibility of the management committee to establish and implement organizational policies, including social media policy.
Implementing the social media policy
Once the policy has undergone all the verification processes, the next level is the implementation stage. It is essential to identify the person responsible for the implementation of the policy and its effects on the performance of other employees.
Sometimes it is important to train persons responsible for the implementation of the social media policy to achieve the desired goals.
Progressive evaluation and revision
Social media usages and data protection policies change over time. Therefore, it is important to evaluate social media policy regularly and revise/ update it accordingly.
Organizations should establish systems for evaluating and reporting the effectiveness of a social media policy. It is also essential to determine the duration for reviewing the policy.
A sample of a social media policy
Here is a sample of social media policy from XYZ Company (imaginary company) to give you a clue of how an ideal policy should be.
XYZ Company Social Media policy
Date and version
The policy was drafted on 28 Sep 2019 as the 3rd version.
The XYZ Company understands that the world of technology keeps changing. Therefore, we are committed to ensuring that we embrace modern methods of communication and sharing information. However, we also understand that some modern methods of communication require regulation so that they can be more effective. We ask all our employees and other stakeholders to read and understand social media policies listed below thoroughly. We expect all the employees of XYZ to behave responsibly on social media and treat all people with respect.
The company has operated for over 20 years and we strongly value all our stakeholders. We are committed to ensuring everyone associated with what we do is happy and finds value in our products. Our mission is to be the leading transport company globally. Our key values are honesty, fairness and transparency. We believe that our employees can uphold these values by behaving responsibly on social media.
Social media policy
- Every employee should be careful when using social media and consider the effects of their actions on other people.
- Every employee should be watchful when sharing and posting private information on social media. Be cautious about identify theft ad phishing.
- Always explain that whatever you post on social media about the company are your personal views unless you have authority to do so.
- Respect the privacy and confidentiality of the company and all its stakeholders. Avoid sharing financial data and other legal information of the company on personal social media accounts.
Social media usage at the workplace
XYZ discourages all its employees to avoid using social media at the workplace unless when doing something related to their duties. Excessive use of social media at the workplace affects productivity and such behaviors are unacceptable.
Employees and members of the public are encouraged to contact the company via this telephone (XXX) number and email address (XXX) if they have any concerns or questions about XYZ social media policies.
It is indisputable that social media policy is a crucial tool for all business organizations in the 21st century. It does not matter whether your business has an official social media platform or not.
Having a formal social media policy is very important. It is easy to develop a formal document for your company using the available social media policy generators and safeguard the interests of your company online.
However, you need to choose a legitimate and effective generator to have a functional social media policy. Remember that using a social media policy generator saves you time and resources but not all generators found online are legitimate.