Before embarking on a social media journey within your organisation you need to create a social media policy as guidance for your employees, partners, resellers and customers on how you operate within the social channels. Your organisation’s social media policy should not merely be a list of do’s and don’ts, but rather guidance on social conduct and netiquette. The best social media policies are kept short and sweet and are not open to interpretation or misinterpretation. Remember mobilising your employees, partners, resellers, clients and customers socially helps open up new communication channels and networks that were previously untapped for your organisation. So, be brave and utilise social media and blogging for your organisation. The following bullet points are worth considering when writing a social media policy for your organisation:
- Engagement. You can’t have a meaningful conversation when you’re an “observer”, so take action and join in with the social conversation. If you’re new to social media, then start by posting a comment on your organisation’s discussion board, forums or blog. Next, start commenting on third party blogs, Facebook pages, news articles, responding to tweets and then if you’re feeling brave start your own blog. You never know you might just enjoy it creating content.
- Identify yourself. When you post on third party blogs and forums make sure you provide your full name, your role and organisation name. If you’re posting on an external site and the topic involves your work, make it clear who you are representing; yourself, your organisation, a client or a combination. Never hide behind an online avatar or profile name. Be open and honest.
- Respect the rules and get legal savvy. Individuals are personally legally responsible for any content published, this includes; tweets, blog posts and comments. So, pay close attention to user guidelines, terms of service, terms and conditions, copyright, fair use, financial disclosure and local laws, plus your organisation’s internal communication policies and contract of employment. When quoting someone, use quotation marks and attribute the quote to the content owner.
- Don’t reveal sensitive or confidential information. Take the time to learn what information needs to remain private within your organisation. Don’t share sensitive information or provide any financial, confidential or proprietary information about your organisation or its clients, customers, partners, suppliers or vendors. When in doubt always seek advice.
- Be transparent. This does not mean share everything, see point 4. However, transparency means admitting your biases, being the first to correct your own mistakes and never altering previous posts without indicating your revision. This invites honest and open conversations. Remember timelines, status updates, comments and posts can still be found within the cache of a search engine. So, deleting will not remove the content permanently. Be careful and think before posting or commenting. Ask yourself will this post or comment benefit your personal brand and the community. If not, then don’t post it.
- Practice proper netiquette. Don’t pick fights in order to spark a conversation. Be constructive, respectful and provide recommendations. Show proper consideration for privacy and avoid inflammatory topics and language. Don’t post any material or content that is obscene, defamatory, profane, libellous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful or embarrassing to any other person or entity. Think Karma – it will come back to haunt you. So, be a good online social citizen.
- Link often and connect. Find out who else is blogging and tweeting on your chosen topic and mention them. They may even return the favour and connect with you. Social media is about making connections, so share the love.
- Add value. Provide worthwhile information and commentary. Don’t merely summarise without offering any insight into the subject you are addressing. Readers prize clarity and conciseness. Respect their time and intelligence. Become a subject matter expert and share your knowledge and expertise with the community, you will soon create a respected follower base.
- Be yourself, but only better. Blogs, discussion boards, forums, social networks and wikis are places where people interact on a one-to-one or one-to-many basis. So, help humanise the brand and let your real voice be heard. You can and will make some great business connections via social media. So, what are you waiting for? Be personal, start creating content and connect with your peers.
- Don’t embarrass yourself. Be mindful to extend this care to your organisation, clients, customers, partners, suppliers and vendors. Be mindful that what you write will be public for a very long time. Think about the social journey as an investment in your career and develop a personal brand that matches your career aspiration. Think before publishing your content and you’ll never have any fears of something embarrassing popping up in the future. Remember what stays online, stays online for a very long time.
Finally, remember keep your social media policy simple so that people can easily digestive the guidance and act within your organisation’s outlined policy. Make sure all your current employees are aware of your new policy and all new hires have the social media policy in their joining instructions. You want to help cultivate a social enterprise and reap the rewards of humanising your organisation’s brand. Good luck with your social media and blogging journey!