Creating a Social Media Policy for Your Company

Social Networks planning

By DJ Edgerton

Congratulations: you’ve just been assigned to create the social media policy for your company. You feel a bit puffed-up with your social media expertise. But slowly, you will begin to think that there are few more daunting tasks.

You will remember that policies mean legalities. And legal stuff is scary.

Next, you’ll admit to yourself that you know enough about social media to know that you don’t know everything that you probably should know in order to do this right.

Then, when you finally make yourself sit down and do a quick Google to get started, you find a completely overwhelming number of results.

Now you’re scared and intimidated and overwhelmed – and you still haven’t even gotten started.

Done one way, being the author of a social media policy could be a rotten job, as you desperately and awkwardly fight to plant your official “I promise to be the expert on all things social media” flag.

Done another way, it could actually be a collaborative, trust-building process.

Here are some points to consider, once you’re done breathing into your paper bag.

* Trust your employees and tell them so. Assume that they are sensible and well meaning. If you can’t, you have much bigger problems.
* Do not go it alone. If you are not a lawyer, it is not your job to be able to write a legal document without help. Get counsel involved.
* Explicitly encourage dialogue. Make it clear that you are not Moses coming down the mountain with stone tablets.
* Keep it philosophical. Keep to common-sense generalities (see “trust your employees”) and be specific about what’s outlawed, not what’s permitted – because if you try to define the entire universe of social media, three things will happen. First, you’ll leave something out. Second, you’ll be instantly outdated. Third, you’ll be exhausted.

Perhaps the best social media policy online is by Jeffrey Levy, director of web communications at EPA and author of Government 2.0 Beta. His take:

1. Do use social media to serve your mission.
2. Don’t be stupid.

There’s really nothing else to say.

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