10 Drafting Tips for a Social Media Policy [TEMPLATE INCLUDED]

Entcounsel is a law firm for creatives and entrepreneurs in the areas of social media law, technology, entertainment, copyright and trademarks. Learn about the top 10 drafting tips when creating a social media policy.

A social media policy applies to all employees, volunteers, and independent contractors who use social media including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn on both personal accounts and the organization’s blogs and social media sites.  Social media would include blogs, wikis, microblogs, message boards, chat rooms, newsletters, forums, social media platforms and other sites that permit an individual to share information with others.  

A social media policy is required when responding to customers, sharing company content on social medial, resharing other informatin, marketing campaigns and launching new products.  A social media policy helps a company and its employees know how to properly conduct themselves on social media.  

A social media strategy begins with an audit of your current social media practices in order to improve them.  Defining business goals and key objectives will help create a strategy.  The strategy will vary on the company's account, shared content and paid ads.  While there may be content and editorial calendars to outline all social media posts that get shared, there will still be the employees on their personal or work accounts where the content has not been vetted.  A good social media policy will help avoid these catastrophic postings.

There are certain general guidelines that all employee should follow no matter what whether they are explicitly stated in in the social media such as:

  • Be respectful and polite
  • Only disseminate information regarding the company consistent with your role and not outside your expertise.
  • Respond to all messages received on social media or transfer it to the appropriate person immediately
  • Ensure that any information being shared related to company business is not confidential and already in the public realm
  • It is a good idea to vet any content with your PR/Marketing departement beforehand.

SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY: 10 DRAFTING TIPS

TIP 1 – Social Media Policy Goals

Outline your company’s social media goals and ensure they are in alignment with the employee handbook and company’s overall mission statement

The Social Media Policy should provide information that is honest, accurate, transparent and with integrity.  

  • Use your real name  
  • Employees should identify themselves as employees of an organization if they are writing about the company, organization or a business matter.
  • Endorsements of any product/service should be clearly spelled out.
  • Any sponsorships, free items or payment of any kind to make a post should be clearly spelled out
  • Always be polite, respectful and professional

TIP 2 – Social Media Policy Use

Employees should be prohibited from posting any third party intellectual property rights, pornographic, obscene, derogatory, discriminatory or harassing materials on both personal and work social media accounts which can reflect negatively upon the company

TIP 3 – Trademarks

Employees should be prohibited from posting a company’s trademarks, logos, slogans, products, confidential information and trade secrets online

TIP 4 – Social Media Policy Spokesperson

Appoint a company spokesperson across all social media accounts so you have control over what is being posted about your brand and protect your reputation.

The Social Media & Compliance Manager is ultimately responsible for ensuring that all social media is consistent with the company’s core values and objectives. 

TIP 5 – Suspicious emails

Train your employees to look for suspicious links and emails. Ensure you have malware, anti-virus and other security measures to prevent data theft

TIP 6 – Ownership of Social Media Accounts

Ensure that all social media accounts are registered in the company’s name and not an employee’s name as employees can leave

TIP 7 – Registering trademarks

Register variations of your company’s brand name and trademarks to prevent them from being taken from others. This includes registering gripe sites such as www.ihate[brand].com or www.[brand]sucks.com.

TIP 8 – Social Media Policy Community Blogging Guidelines

Require customers and users of your website to agree to community blogging guidelines before they can blog or comment on the company’s website

TIP 9 – Disciplinary Action

The social media policy should set out disciplinary action for failing to abide by the social media policy, including and up to termination

TIP 10 – Ongoing training

Appoint a social media team to provide ongoing training to employees on social media use

Click here to see a sample Social Media Policy intended as a guideline to draft your own social media policy.