Social Media: How to Develop Your Company’s Policy
By now, most organizations realize that social media is here to stay. And whether your company is using sophisticated social media strategies to reach its business goals or simply looking for guidance to help employees make good choices online, it has never been more important to have clearly defined social media policies that minimize risk and keep everyone on message.
A Brief Update on Today’s Social Media Platforms
Each social media platform is unique. Anytime a company uses social media for marketing or recruitment, it’s important to understand the platform’s audience and reach as a critical driver of the communications strategy. If you haven’t seen the numbers lately, here are the top social media sites and their most recent user statistics:
LinkedIn was founded in 2002. As of July 2018, the site has more than 562 million registered users in over 200 countries. Professionals sign up at the rate of two per second. There are 46 million students and recent college graduates on the site.
Facebook was founded in 2004. As of June 2018, the site has 2.23 billion active users. It boasts more than 30,000 employees in nearly 70 locations worldwide.
YouTube was founded in 2005. Today it has over 1 billion users which, according to the site, amounts to almost one-third of the internet. YouTube mobile reaches more people in the U.S. than any television network. It is localized in 88 countries and can be accessed in 76 different languages.
Twitter was founded in 2006. In the first quarter of 2018, it averaged 336 million users. Eighty percent (80%) of its usage is mobile. Approximately 500 million tweets are sent each day.
Instagram was founded in 2010 and has over 1 billion users. Approximately 80 percent of users come from outside the U.S. Instagram users “like” over 4.2 billion and share 95 million posts per day.
In case there was any doubt, these numbers confirm that social media isn’t going away anytime soon. So, if you haven’t already, putting a comprehensive social media policy in place at your company is a worthwhile investment that will pay dividends now and in the long run.
6 Steps for Creating a Social Media Policy
Whether your employees are using social media for legitimate business purposes or just checking their feeds during breaks or free time, it makes sense to think about what your organization needs when it comes to social media policy. Here are 6 steps you should consider when crafting your company’s social media guidelines:
- Establish the goal. Organizations shouldn’t create policies without a clear understanding of the outcomes they are trying to achieve. Any type of policy, procedure, or guideline should have a goal. Even if the goal is simply to be compliant. Key stakeholders should reach agreement on why the organization uses social media and the reasons a policy is necessary.
- Consult legal counsel. Have a high-level conversation with the company’s legal counsel about the goals for the policy. The legal department will be able to tell you about what’s legal and what’s not, along with recent court cases to consider. They can also let you know if other policies and procedures need to be adjusted based on the new social media policy.
- Draft the policy. Armed with good information, it’s time to put a policy down on paper. You’ll eventually want to have legal counsel review the policy again. But for now, get everyone’s ideas out. Also, to make sure no one misinterprets the draft as a final, watermark the document with “DRAFT” in big letters.
- Get buy-in at every level. After legal approves the draft, share the draft policy with key stakeholders. This should also include a few employees. Your employees can help “sell” the new policy to co-workers and stop the rumor mill from sabotaging implementation.
- Develop a communications strategy. Many organizations create well-thought out policies only to have them become sources of contention because a communications and implementation strategy wasn’t a part of the process. Use multiple channels to reach your employees and make sure that everyone is aware of the new policy.
- Commit to regular policy reviews. Business changes all the time, so policies need to do the same. Once the policy is implemented, have regular reviews to make sure the policy meets its intended goals. If adjustments need to be made, work with stakeholders and counsel to keep the policy current.
Social media has become an everyday part of our personal lives. Employees expect it to be a part of their professional lives as well, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a few rules around its use.
When crafting your policy be sure to get buy-in from key stakeholders and align policies with company goals. This will help make your policies easy to implement and, in turn, easier to comply with. No matter how you approach it, keep in mind that the purpose of a policy isn’t to make your employees work harder but to ensure consistency across the organization.
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