How to create a Social Media & Messenger policy for your organization?

Shali Gabisonia, Product Lead

Borders between companies and their employees in social media keep vanishing. This is why social media and messenger policies have become such an urgent issue, particularly in case you have decided to introduce a Referral Recruitment chatbot and strengthen your Employee Advocacy program. It not only allows maintaining your brand reputation but also facilitates the growth of your employees' activity online.
In this publication, we will discuss the benefits of using social media & messenger policy and the approach to building such a policy independently.
What is social media & messenger policy?
Social media & messenger policy defines the rules a company and its employees should observe while online. This document helps to protect the brand reputation and encourages employees to responsibly share corporate information either of the company's or one's own behalf.

Social networks constantly change, and the policy regulating their use should evolve accordingly. In other words, it should be a living document. At this point, you have most obviously imagined a thick 26-pages long paper. Staycool. The key goal of this document consists of providing employees with clear and simple guidelines without unnecessary details. For instant, the social media policy of Adidas is only 2 pages long.
It does not matter how popular your company is in social media as it might be at the very beginning of this road; a social media policy is a must for any organization. What benefits does it bring to the table?
1) Protects the company's reputation
By defining the online code of conduct for your employees, including which information can and cannot be shared, you will dramatically decrease the reputational risks for your brand. Moreover, a good social media policy will also explain the actions that should be taken in case of errors and attacks in online channels caused by hackers and trolls.
2) Minimizes legal risks and security threats
Social media policy helps to protect your company from potential legal risks and security threats by identifying such potential threats and ways to prevent them. Such a policy should also explain what any an employee has to do in case he/she has involuntarily compromised corporate reputation or became a victim of attackers.
3) Encourages employees to share corporate content
Social media & messenger policies can be highly useful when it comes to brand building. Clear guidelines will explain to employees how social networks should be used for brand building purposes. To use your social media policy as a brand advocacy instrument, you should also make sure that it contains advice on how to best publish corporate content in social networks and leave commentaries to posts online. Thanks to Employee Advocacy programs and the introduction of referral recruitment chatbots, employees can quickly access authorized and pre-approved content for sharing. This will help decrease the risks and stay confident that your content is in line with your brand and image.
4) Creates a single image of the company across all online channels
You should use a social media policy to show the spirit and character of your brand. A powerful image drives the growth of awareness and visibility, underlines the specifics, and helps users to build a connection with your business. If there are public personas among your employees, who are active on social media, you should educate them about your brand standards as related to the style and design of private accounts.

This is essential in case you want your employee's nickname on Twitter to resemble and serves a reference to a corporate brand. In this part of your social media policy, also remember the rules of using visuals, videos and other media data. Should your company like to have all visuals posted on social networks in line with its image, make sure to include this requirement in your social policy.
What should be there in your
social media & messenger policy?
Before diving deeper into specifics, let us divide your policy into two parts:

1. Social media & messenger policy for official corporate accounts.

2. Social media & messenger policy for private accounts / employee pages.

Despite the fact that there are common aspects for both policy types, there are still individual characteristics that need a more detailed description.
1 . Rules and Norms
This section should include your requirements towards your employees' behavior on social media and messengers when they either share information on behalf of the company or post something work-related on their own. For instance, should obscene words or controversial topics be restricted while making posts about the company?

Here are some specific items that can be covered in this section:

Brand leadership: How employees should speak of the company and products?

Ethics and Engagement: How employees should react to any reference to your brand – positively or negatively?

Confidentiality: Define the company information that SHOULD NOT be shared or published on social media.

Roles and Responsibilities
This section is dedicated to who is responsible for doing what in terms of managing social media. For your convenience, we suggest entering the information in two columns. The first should specify the tasks and responsibilities as related to managing social media (brand management, for instance), while the second would feature employees in charge (most likely this is going to be a brand manager).

Other roles and responsibilities for social media include:

- Approval of posts
- Interactions with customers
- Social engagement
- Security and legal issues
- Staff training
Potential legal risks
To protect yourself against legal risks, your social media and messenger policy should contain clear instructions covering all possible risks. Make sure to complete careful research and attract an experienced legal professional. Here are some items that should necessarily be included in this section:

Sources of financing
: Define the way your team is going to pay for original content if this is a quotation or content taken from an external source (copyright for images, for instance).

Right for confidentiality and disclosure rules
: Define what confidential information is and which messages can never be posted (like disclosure of rebranding plans.

Employees' disclaimer
: Make it an obligation for your employees to include a disclaimer while publicly commenting on the content related to your company. Standard disclaimers of this type usually look like: "Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer." You can also suggest adding such a disclaimer to your employees' personal information publicly accessible on their Twitter or LinkedIn accounts.
Security risks
From phishing attacks to blackmailing and extortion, unfortunately, security risks on social media are currently widespread. Companies should be particularly attentive when it comes to their presence online.

Social media policy protects against such risks and helps employees acknowledge threats, explains the ways towards preventing them and actions in case of a real attack.

Your social media policy should feature the following recommendations:

- How to create well-protected passwords
- How to avoid phishing attacks, spam and other threats
- How to react in case of a security breach or attack
Summing up, each employee is responsible for what he/she has posted on the Internet during the day. Remember to remind your peers to be careful and stick to their common sense irrespective of how they post the content on behalf of the company or on their own behalf.
How to introduce a social media & messenger policy?
Look for resources inside your company. Such a policy should be based on the involvement of your employees. Teamwork will help cover the whole population and ensure the engagement of each employee.

Focus on the bigger picture. Social media keep evolving. Do not focus too much on the specifics of using each of the separate channels.

Do not create obstacles. Your social media & messenger policy should encourage employees towards participation in social activities and brand building. You should not create a document featuring multiple bans and restrictions.
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