The Essentials of a Professional Social Media Use Policy

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October 3, 2011 – Whether or not you already have a social media policy in place for your company, now is the time to review your business’s needs and revisit or draft your rules for social networking and employee conduct.

There are many things to consider when drafting a social media policy and two types of use policies: personal and professional. We’ll focus on the professional side for now, as we found two great “top 10” lists for drafting your own professional social media use policy.

These tips are most important for businesses whose employees maintain social media accounts in the business’s name, or individual professional accounts as employees of those businesses. (Hint: you can use individual accounts to provide excellent customer support on a personal level!)

From these two lists, we extracted 5 guidelines your employees should follow when socializing on behalf of your business: 

  • Be Honest – don’t hide who you work for, always state your company, position, and real name.
  • Review your post before sending it – make sure you’re posting on the correct profile, but most of all make sure the post makes sense, is grammatically correct, and is not misleading or unintentionally inappropriate.
  • Be courteous and use common sense – remember you are interacting with clients and customers and your actions represent your business.
  • Know your boundaries – only work within your level of authority, if a discussion goes beyond the scope of your role in the company, bring it to the attention of the appropriate person to handle the situation.
  • Remember who you are – everything you post on a social network under your company identity will reflect on the company itself.

The purpose of a professional social media policy is to make sure that your business is taking advantage of the great marketing and customer relations that social media has to offer without risking embarrassment or legal trouble by an employee’s misconduct. Whether you only have one social media manager handling all accounts for your business, or if each employee has their own professional account, with a solid policy in place, you can help curtail any issues that may arise.

If you’re interested in reading the full versions of the top 10 lists we found, visit Mashable.com’s 10 “must-haves” when creating a policy for your company. They are one of our go-to sites for solid information on Internet marketing. You can read the other list on Shift Communications’ website where they provide these guidelines and policy template.

When dealing with these aspects of social media, you have to be careful that the policy isn’t written too vaguely, but that it also isn’t too restrictive. You could end up either confusing your employees or losing out on valuable interaction with clients.

Tomorrow we’ll touch on the personal social media use plan, which is a whole different ball game!