We’ve been fortunate to write Social Media Policy/Guidelines for many of our clients, and we always make a point of creating the document in the early stages of the account. What has become very apparent is that Policy/Guidelines should be education pieces that can be understood by any employee regardless of their Social Media savvyness. At the same time, many companies (including our clients) need to have the sense of security that a legal document entails, therefore a Social Media Policy has to fit somewhere in between. The purpose has to be a legal document that protects the interests of the company but isn’t so complicated that employees either a) don’t understand it or b) never read it.
To give you an idea of what the ideal Social Media Policy/Guidelines looks like, here are just a few core elements that should be included in the document:
Educate those who don’t know Social Media
Don’t assume anything. Consider the demographics of your employees, will every single person know what a hashtag is? Will they know the difference between a micro-blog and a blog? Do they even use these channels?! Start with a concise and clear definition of Social Media. The main goal is to get people to read the policy, so don’t alienate them by assuming they know what you’re talking about.
Explain why the business is using Social Media
The first and most important ingredient for a Social Media Policy has to be an explanation as to why your business is utilising Social Media. You need to persuade your employee to read the document and see the value in Social Media. If they don’t understand the long term objectives of your strategy, then they are less likely to follow anything else.
What are the 3 key lessons you want to deliver?
Chances are that your reader will struggle to remember every piece of information and advice you offer up, so ensure that you prioritise the 3 most important issues and push these at the beginning of the document. So, if you are particularly concerned with employees revealing internal information on social channels, highlight this.
Don’t just say ‘it’s wrong’, explain why
A list of do’s and don’ts won’t properly educate your reader. Let’s face it, people regularly break rules – especially ones they don’t see any value in. Add value and education to your policy by explaining why employees should follow your advice. Either include an explanation for each point in the document or run a training session to support it. Social Media Policies shouldn’t feel like a list of rules, but should empower the employee to use social media as a force for good.
Provide a point of contact
It is inevitable that employees will have questions. Sometimes they may just need some reassurance, other times they have a serious problem that they need to report immediately. Every Social Media Policy should have a go-to contact who is willing to advise on issues – ideally this person should be the person who has written the document or works with Social Media on a daily basis.
Keep it brief – two pages max!
We’ve already mentioned that if the document looks like the usual corporate paperwork it’s probably never going to be read. The ideal document should be two pages max – you want to distribute a 1 sheet of paper, cover and back.
Images? Graphs? A spacious layout? Colour?! Avoid dull, grey and text heavy corporate paperwork. The difference between that and engaging content is the bin. Alternatively, you could take a more engaging approach and produce a video like this one we found a few weeks ago. Policy is useless is nobody ever bothers to read them.