It’s no secret. Policies are dry, dull and functional. But they give you the opportunity to shape your organisation – particularly when it comes to social media.
At The Prince’s Trust we used our first social media policy (launched in 2016) to rally our workforce to become online champions. We even encouraged them to start official local or departmental channels to help meet their team’s objectives.
We understood we wanted more people to help and be helped by The Trust. But for this to work well, everyone needed to pull in the same direction.
Leading with a ‘good’ news story meant our staff and volunteers were open to the regulations that would naturally follow, to minimise risk towards our beneficiaries and reputation.
Here are our top tips for how to get started with social media policies:
1. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Speak to your HR team to source existing policy templates. Alongside this, use your industry network and resources to understand how other organisations do it well.
Don’t forget to include:
- Personal and professional processes
- Policy ownership
- Breach consequences
- Summary and contact details
2. Who’s your policy for?
Staff is the obvious audience, but what should you consider when creating versions for other stakeholders?
We recognised that our community of staff and volunteers is vital in helping us champion who we are and what we do.
We also knew that there was going to be a wide range of social media knowhow and we wouldn’t be able to commit to reviewing all of their online activity. So, we went back to basics by creating training guides to encourage people to become comfortable and confident with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn etc., while developing healthy habits.
- Make clear that your personal profiles don’t reflect those of the organisation
- Don’t use the organisation’s logo as your profile picture or brand name in your user name
- Be aware of how your personal views could cause conflict e.g. political views
3. You can’t preempt everything
Your policy shouldn’t try to outline what staff should do in every given situation; it’s not possible.
Focus on key principles that you want staff to adopt. For us, it was ‘apply sound judgement’.
We emphasised that all posts have a consequence. Mostly good (comments, likes, shares etc.) but sometimes it backfires. We stressed the need for professional conduct at all times, and tweeting in line with our core values.
4. To friend or not to friend?
Where you can be clear in your policy, do so – with no exceptions.
We made the decision that under no circumstances should staff, volunteers, partners etc. follow or befriend a young person from their personal account. Our aim is to support young people through our programmes, and the most effective way to do this is by them signing up through our website or customer services team.
5. Police sirens
Be realistic about how you can police your policy. Whether it’s dedicated monitoring – through systems such as Brandwatch or Sysomos or Google Alerts – or occasional spot-checks, be consistent, firm and fair.
I prefer to pick up the phone and talk to colleagues about how they could improve their approach. As a result, it’s prompted my team to invest in upskilling others through training, webinars and blogs to keep people engaged on everything social.
6. Don’t rest on your internal comms
Internal communications channels will only take you so far. Your policy shouldn’t be another mandatory must-read; it needs to become embedded in your culture. So, go out on the road and host presentations, as well as Q&As and training sessions to ensure everyone feels brought into the changes.
Feeling confident? Go forth and lay a positive policy foundation for your organisation today. Your Digital Marketing team of tomorrow will thank you.