Establishing a clear social media policy is important for providing direction to employees who engage on behalf of a brand in social media and for protecting the corporate reputation. Here are a few tips on how to effectively set up and implement your policy.
First and foremost, a good policy will address the why, who, and what:
• WHY does this policy exist? Provide context around the brand’s social media activities
and explain the importance of social media in supporting the broader communications
and business objectives.
• WHO is the policy for? Outline teams and individual who may engage in social media on
the brand’s behalf and that are required to know the policy.
• WHAT will those persons gain from reading the policy? State the key takeaways and
how having this policy will help individuals in their day-to-day activities.
1. State the Purpose
• It is imperative to set the expectations for those engaging in social media on behalf of
• Persons who represent the brand, either individually or as the face of the brand, must
know that they are taking responsibility for what they write and need to exercise good
judgment and common sense.
• Make clear the expectations and potential outcomes should they not be met.
2. Define the Responsibility
• While at times there may be gray areas regarding what a brand can or cannot do in
social media, it is always best to comply with the strictest standards. For example,
healthcare brands who must comply with FDA marketing standards should outline this in
their social media policy and instruct readers where to find a more information on FDA
• Setting the rule for which standards must be met will reduce the risk of the
appropriateness of actions being left to individual interpretation.
3. Set the Standards
• Providing guidelines around proper social media ethics will ensure that those engaging
on behalf of the brand will always act in the brand’s best interest and in an way
acceptable to those with whom they are engaging.
• Five key areas to be covered include:
1. Transparency about who is acting on behalf of the brand
2. How to correct mistakes openly, rather than trying to sneak edits past fans
3. Proper grounds and process for removing posts
4. Crediting work by others and avoiding illegal use of copyrighted material
5. Offering a value exchange to fans and influencers engaging with the brand
4. Establish Guidelines
• However clear a social media policy may be, it is of no use unless employees are
provided with the proper training and resources to become comfortable with the policy.
• Creating a distribution plan is important to providing ample opportunity for employees to
learn and ask questions about the policy. As well, looking for ways to emphasize its
importance will encourage employees to familiarize themselves with the policy.
• Brands may consider distribution through:
- Internal communication channels (newsletters, regular email updates)
- Online and/or in-person training sessions
- Incorporating the social media policy into company guidelines manuals and/or
- Communications from upper managing showing their support of the policy and
emphasizing its importance
5. Plan Distribution
• An important appendage to a social media policy is providing direction and setting
expectations around employees’ own social media activities.
• While there are debates on how tightly companies can control employee activities
outside of a brand’s own channels, common guidelines that help protect both the
individual and corporate reputation include:
- On their own accounts, employees are allowed to associate themselves with the
company but must clearly brand posts as purely their own
- Employees should not disclose any “insider information”
- Authenticity is important, the company can flag or correct any misleading posts
- Employee engagement with brand content should be welcomed, or even
encouraged, but the company has the right to regulate comments on its own
corporate pages according the community rules, such as removing inaccurate,
harmful, or offensive content
Moderating Employee Activities