How To Write a Social Media Policy
A company social media policy template with NLRB tips
A social media policy example is something we’re often asked to provide our clients. We’ve written this article to help business owners and managers address social media’s impact on their company. This article includes tips and suggestions on how to write a social media policy in 2016. This article also includes a social media policy template that we created, and is FREE for you to use. You will find that our social media policy template requires only minor revisions to be customized for your business.
*DISCLAIMER* – Our social media policy template (found below) is free to copy and use. We provide this information and template as a courtesy. Before implementing any social media policy you should have the document and language reviewed by a business lawyer. We are not responsible for any issues arising from use of our information or example template.
Reasons to Write a Social Media Policy
There are many reasons why you need a social media policy. Most of these reasons generally relate to protecting your brand image, and avoiding legal problems. The three most common reasons to implement a social media policy are:
- Brand Protection: Your brand can be damaged by employees who post unflattering comments, photos and videos. Their social content does not necessarily have to be directly negative about your company. Content that is of poor taste, shows illegal activity or uncivil behaviors, and includes your company logo, offices, shops, etc. is a potential problem.
- Legal Issues: Libel, slander and defamation law suits can be brought forth by competitors, vendors, or people mentioned or shown on your social media pages.
- Personnel Issues: Whether the information posted or show is true or false, posting content that is personally humiliating or embarrassing can cause significant problems between coworkers, employees, staff, and management.
Social Media Policy Potential Legal Issues
When you write and implement your social media policy you must be very conscientious of potential legal problems. The National Labor Relations Board has repeatedly and harshly involved themselves in the affairs private enterprises. Court decisions and rulings have included determinations of wrongful termination, fines assessed against employers, and other unpleasant results. In the spirit of fairness, we will post here that in at least one case the NLRB did side with an employer and their challenged social media policy.
Certainly individuals have the right to express themselves however; sometimes it’s not to the liking of the business. In situations like this the matter can quickly escalate into a legal battle. Click the following link to learn more about the NLRB and Social Media.
Social Media Policy Example & Template (FREE TO USE)
Copy and paste the following into a Word document, or download a copy here.
Social Media Policy
Statement of Purpose
COMPANY has earned and seeks to maintain a reputation as a professionally managed company with good conduct in all matters. Social media is a critical area to manage for protecting brand reputation, and for engaging prospects, customers, suppliers and industry associates in a positive manner. This Social Media Policy exists to provide rules and guidelines for best practices and proper decorum for employees who are active on social media accounts, forums, blogs, wiki pages and other sites.
Social Media Goals
COMPANY recognizes social media as a powerful platform to engage and inform prospects, customers, suppliers, industry groups and governing agencies. Official use of Company owned or managed social media pages should be done to support the general best interests of the Company, and specifically our sales and marketing objectives.
Policy for Company Owned & Managed Social Media Accounts
While social media is typically viewed as casual interactions it is important to bear in mind that Company statements can be held to the same legal standards as traditional media communications. Social media managers should use due diligence and discipline to post only content that is accurate, not misleading or defamatory, and in good taste. Every Company social media manager (employee or agent) acts as a public ambassador and should always act with honesty, ethics and integrity in all matters.
Social media managers should maintain an awareness that online content lives forever, and inappropriate content posted for even a few seconds before being removed could have serious repercussions. If there is any doubt on whether or not to post any content, choose to not post it. Social media managers should provide this policy to third parties such as social media marketing agencies that may manage Company social media pages.
The purpose of this section is to establish standards for developing and publishing acceptable content on COMPANY branded social media accounts, (including blogs, forums, and other websites). This section specifically pertains to creative styles and characteristics to be applied when creating or republishing content. All published content should promote consistency in formatting styles and voice, even among multiple authors and contributors, and be developed to enhance and promote our brand image.
Voice of Content: Text content should typically be written in a friendly first person voice.
Tone of Content: All content should be positive in nature, and serve to enhance the brand and reputation of COMPANY.
Limiting Liability Risks: In most instances social media managers should refrain from posting content for public consumption which offers advice or instructions, and where improperly following the information could result in physical, financial or legal harm to the reader (or anyone with whom the reader may share the information).
Content Attribution: It is desired that all content published should be original material, created by the Company or its Agents. Republishing content is permissible when social media managers have confirmed permission of the creator to republish said content. The use of “scraped” text or images is forbidden. Use of stock images or graphics published under Creative Commons licensing should include proper attribution whenever reasonably possible.
Avoid Copyright Infringements: A best practice is to include proper attribution for images that you may include. All content published should be in compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and not violate any copyrights laws or ownership rights.
Appropriate Content: No content that could be considered controversial is to be published. This specifically includes text or visual content of a slanderous, hateful or divisive nature. Examples of such content are topics including but not limited to, references to ethnicity, race, sex, religion or politics that would generally be considered to be inappropriate or provocative in nature.
Think Globally: COMPANY has a global reach thus attention must be given to not posting content that could be offensive, inaccurate or problematic to any nationality or ethnic group.
Responses & Interactions
Positive Feedback:. Where possible, reply to positive reviews and feedback with an appropriate thank you and restatement of at least one positive thing mentioned. (i.e., “Thank you for your kind words. COMPANY strives to list here something they liked”)
Negative Feedback: Persons posting any negative reviews or comments should generally not be engaged to prevent inciting them, and consequently starting a contentious online debate or spreading the grievance to other social media sites.
When a response is deemed necessary, it should be brief and positive, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the statement(s). The response should be an acknowledgement of their position, with a comment that COMPANY takes pride in its industry reputation, and include a cordial invitation to contact the company to discuss their feelings. (i.e., We understand your concern. COMPANY works hard to maintain our earned reputation for list here their complaint. We invite you to call our customer service team to discuss your experience.”)
Policy for Personal Social Media Accounts
Non-representation: Unless formally identified by COMPANY management, no person is authorized to publish text or visual content which is, or would give the appearance of said person acting on behalf of the Company or otherwise being an authorized Company spokesperson.
Confidentiality: Publishing, sharing or otherwise making available any Company information that is expressly or generally considered to be non-public or confidential is prohibited. This specifically includes, but is not limited to, disclosure of trade secrets, customer information, internal communications and company documents.
Suggestions, Recommendations & Comments
Reasonable Conduct: Do not “troll”, “bait”, harass, impugn or otherwise engage competitors, vendors, contractors or industry personnel in any manner that may reflect poorly on COMPANY or that could cause legal actions. Individuals are ultimately responsible for their actions thus are urged to participate on social media sites and exercise common sense and sound judgment.
Be a Brand Guardian: Protecting our brand reputation is very important. We encourage employees to send an email to SocialMedia@YourCompany.com advising of any comments, remarks or mentions of COMPANY of which they become aware, and that are clearly believed to not have been published by the Company.
The Company urges anyone who is not a formal Company spokesperson (social media manager) to not address or respond to said comments or remarks. Notifying our communications team of any negative comments or remarks will allow the Company to review the content and make a formal decision on an appropriate action.
Utilize In-house Support: Anyone wanting to post content but having concerns about doing so is encouraged to contact the communications team at SocialMedia@YourCompany.com . Our communications team will answer emails with comments within one business day.
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