Social media has become a huge part of modern life, cementing itself in both our personal and professional everyday activities. While it is a great way to connect and nurture our networks, things can become a little messy, especially when the lines between personal and professional life get a little blurred. This is why a social media policy is essential for today’s businesses.
Talking to businesses they often tell me why they don’t need to have a social media policy.
So, if you’ve put off implementing a social media policy for any of the below reasons, we’re here to show you exactly why you probably should.
“It’s ok, Social media is covered in another policy.”
Why you probably should – Some organisations believe they don’t need a specific social media policy because expected behaviours have already been covered in an alternative policy, such as a general Code of Conduct.
While this may be the case, a small snippet of expectations is unlikely to satisfactorily manage social media use in the current climate.
A dedicated social media policy will create clarity for your staff so that everyone knows exactly how to use online platforms appropriately and in a way that accurately represents the organisation. It is a small investment that will help to avoid problematic situations in the future.
“We can’t tell staff what to do on social media”
Why you probably should – Most people are on social media in some form, with home life and work-life being more intertwined than ever before.
This causes some organisations to believe that they have no control over their employees’ usage of social media, but this is not the case. Everything your staff members do and say on social media outside of work can be seen as a reflection of your organisation.
Therefore, it is perfectly appropriate to implement expectations around social media usage to ensure your company is being represented in a positive manner.
“But won’t a formal policy will discourage people from using social media”
Why you probably should – A common misconception is that staff will be discouraged from using social media if their behaviours are dictated by a formal policy.
In reality, the opposite is true. It is likely that your team will be apprehensive to engage online if there is no clarity around how they are expected to use social media platforms.
Implementing a clear policy that outlines exactly how social media should be used and the behaviours that are considered inappropriate will give individuals the confidence to get active.
“It’s ok, I trust my team they will do the right thing”
Why you probably should – Even the best, most trustworthy teams can run into issues without clear policies.
What one person considers to be ‘the right thing’ or appropriate use of social media may be significantly different from the next person’s ideas.
A strong social media policy removes all of this ambiguity and ensures everyone is on the same page when it comes to online activity.
“But our company doesn’t use social media”
Why you probably should – Many organisations compile their set of policies only to leave social media out because they don’t believe it currently applies to their company.
Given the strength of the social media trend for both business and personal purposes, it is likely online behaviour will become relevant to your business very soon, although there is a very good chance it is already. Remember that just because your company isn’t active on social media at an organisational level doesn’t mean that your employees aren’t engaging online at an individual level.
Implementing a social media policy sooner rather than later will provide guidance for individual users and ensure you are prepared for the future should your company become more active in the online space.
“Social media …… that’s left to the marketing team, right?”
Why you probably should – One of the most beneficial, and potentially difficult, aspects of social media is that everyone has access. This means that everybody has a platform to consume information, engage with other people and share their views.
This thought can be daunting for some companies and staff who understand the magnitude of social media reach and believe this content is better left to the experts, such as a professional marketing team.
The problem with this is that you miss out on a large portion of engagement from other staff who may be able to help grow your brand. It also makes it hard to control the behaviours of staff who are using social media in a personal manner that may still reflect your organisation. Creating a social media policy will help all staff to use social media in a worthwhile manner, while also ensuring personal use is appropriate.
Social media is a valuable tool that is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. Make the most of these low-cost marketing and engagement platforms by implementing a social media policy that provides clarity to your staff and ensures everyone is behaving appropriately online. It will be worth it in the long run!
Kylie Chown is the current #2 LinkedIn expert in Asia-Pac, 2020 Finalist Best Social Media Educator & Best Use of LinkedIn, Australia’s first Certified Social Media Crisis Advisor and founder of My Digital Brand, helping professionals, businesses and corporates create a world-class digital brand.
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