We often hear about social media policy but often in the context of big business. No matter what the size your organisation, even if you are a one person business it’s important to have guidelines in place. This will ensure that you have a consistent voice, that everyone including yourself is aware of what and what isn’t appropriate and it enables you to react with a level head if you have to deal with negative customer feedback.
Here’s three types of policy you should consider and how to get started:
Policy 1. For Employees
This is one you might not have thought of but it’s important to let employees know how to refer to you when posting updates to their own social media channels.
- Are they allowed to mention you and your company?
- Are they allowed to mention the names of work colleagues?
- Should they expect to appear in social media updates by the company and by colleagues?
I’m sure you have seen some high profile cases when a staff member has been fired or suspended after posting about their employer on their personal Facebook or Twitter accounts.
There are many good reasons why you should allow your employees to post about you to social media channels. They could be your best brand ambassadors and can help carry your message far beyond the reach of you alone.
If you do allow them to talk about you make it clear what is not acceptable when discussing your company and what penalties will be incurred if they break the rules.
Remember that in order to make sure all your staff really do read your policy you have to make it short, sweet and easy to read.
Policy 2. For Those Updating Your Social Media
Whether it is you, an employee or a number of people updating your social media channels it’s important to have some guidelines in place.
If it’s just for you it can help you stay consistent with your language and tone of voice. It also helps you take the emotion out of your decisions when you need to deal with customer complaints etc. Here are a few points to think about when constructing your policy:
What is your brand personality?
Earlier this year at Social Media World Forum I attended a presentation from Bruce Daisley from Twitter. He introduced us to a simple way to decide on your social brand personality. It’s tempting to always try to be fun on social media but that doesn’t suit every brand. Bruce showed us this triangle and told us to choose two points from it in order to define our tone of voice.
Quite quickly I identified myself and ‘Give Info’ and ‘Help’. Knowing this means that I can ensure that my posts are always consistent. Of course sometimes I am fun but it doesn’t inform the content I create.
If more than one person updates your accounts it also means that you have a consistent voice.
How to deal with complaints
If you have ever had to deal with negative feedback you are probably familiar with the emotions it can bring out in you. It can be hard to keep these off your social media channels, it’s very easy to type something in the heat of the moment and live to regret it. Unfortunately one bad comment from you can mean the situation spirals out of control quite quickly attracting more attention to the complaint.
For this reason, even if you are the only person in the business you must have a set of guidelines that you can refer to in the heat of the moment. Think about your customer service process, will you thank people for their comment? Will you rectify it in public or will you take it offline and if so how? If someone is abusive how will you react?
It’s a good idea to write yourself a list of things that could go wrong and decide in each situation how will react. It’s not a good idea to write it word for word as social media users soon spot cut and paste responses.
When will you delete a post?
It’s important to decide in advance when you will remove a post from your page, how will you identify posts that need to be removed, will it be due to bad language, abuse or something else? You will also need to decide how you will handle complaints from the person whose post you removed and their friends.
How long it will take to get back to customer queries
It’s quite scary to realise, particularly for small businesses, that 42% of social media users expect a response within one hour of posting a query to your social media channels.
You may not be able to respond this quickly if you are on your own and I believe that consumers will give small and micro business a bit more leeway. You need to work out how quickly you are realistically going to respond and set this as a goal, making sure that esquires and comments don’t hang for any longer than that.
3. For the public posting on your pages
This will come from the decisions you make in 1 and 2, the difference is that this is designed to be viewed by the public. You need to include
1. Under what circumstances you will remove posts
2. What sort of language is permissable
3. If it’s acceptable for people to post commercial posts to your pages
You should put this information on your website so you can refer people to it when necessary. If it’s really important to you that people read it in advance of posting you could also add it to your Facebook page as a tab.
These are just starting points for your policy, larger companies will need to get more departments involved, smaller companies may just need to create a basic policy. Whichever applies to you it’s never too soon to think this over and start developing guidelines.
Do You Have A Facebook Posting Policy – My post for Tweak Your Biz
5 Must-Haves For Your Brand’s Social Media Policy – From Likeable Media
If you enjoyed this blog post why not subscribe to my newsletter or my blog posts via email. Click here for more info.