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6 top tips: Do you need a social media policy?

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1. Make it practical and easy to understand

As with many staff policies it can be easy to overcomplicate. Make sure it covers all the key areas of the business and all stakeholder communication.

2. Apply the policy to both the corporate accounts and employees personal accounts

Every member of staff should be aware of what their responsibilities are to the company when using social media, whether this is via corporate accounts as well as use of their personal accounts. Many people have been caught out through inappropriate use of their personal account that has reflected badly on the organisation. An example of such was the NHS Chief Executive who tweeted on his personal account about a new boat, when NHS staff were facing job losses and salary cuts. A clear policy would have ensured he was fully aware that his personal account was subject to the same standards as the corporate one.

3. Include exclusion policy

Clearly define what is on and off limits when using social media. This will ensure employees have full clarity about what is acceptable when using platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and what is not. Even though employee contracts will make reference to confidential information it should also be included in the social media policy.

4. Escalation policy

Quite often employees from all levels of the organisation will be involved in social media, so a detailed escalation policy should be in place so that all employees know who to escalate specific questions to within the organisation.

5. Rules on setting up accounts in the name of the organisation

It is very easy to set up an account in any name, whether it is a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn account. In order to ensure the organisation has complete control over any corporate accounts, there should be rules as to who can set up accounts in the name of the organisation. This should also include sign off at Director level to ensure the management is fully aware of what is happening through the use of social media and who has responsibility for managing the company’s accounts.

6. Incorporate the policy into employee contracts

Finally, and probably the most important, make sure that you incorporate your social media policy into all employment contracts. By doing this if there are any issues as a result of misuse of social media then the usual sanctions can be applied.

James Leavesley is CEO of CrowdControlHQ.

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