Why Do I Need A Social Media Policy
A policy is not the same as a strategy. Your Social Media Strategy is about what you are trying to achieve whereas your Social Media Policy sets out how you are going to use social media. One is a goal and the other a sort of method statement to protect both you and your business.
It is obviously an internal document that will not be posted online but by having it and adhering to it you will ensure that you do not get into trouble.
What Sort of Trouble?
If you have read the About Us page you will remember that I was a lawyer for many years and so came across the laws of libel and copyright etc. Although I was conversant with the laws in the UK most countries have similar laws.
Libel is where you print words that are defamatory and make “any right thinking member of society think less of the person about whom the words were written.”
So if you were to post on say facebook “fred is a shit plumber and a fat bastard who cant be trusted” then fred may very well sue you.
Likewise there are laws about inciting religious/racial/sexual persecution. Indeed at the moment you will have read about the activities on social media of certain fundamentalists in Syria and how the authorities are dealing with it.
The web people put up some relevant and innocuous images and everyone was very pleased.
A year later the charity received an email from the lawyers acting for Getty Images who owned the copyright in one of the images used on the site. To cut a long story short the web builder had gone bust and the charity had to pay $4500 and the lawyers fees of $1250. And they had to remove the image from their site or pay an annual fee for its use.
It is very dangerous to just see and copy an image from the internet and use it as your own. Try going to Google Images and search for say Facebook. Then use the tab marked Search Tools and then the tab marked Usage Rights. Choose reuse and see how many images have disappeared.
Only post images that you own or have permission to use. If you need some then Click This Link.
What Goes Into a Policy For Social Media?
Whether you are a Sole Trader, a small business, a large organisation, a charity or a voluntary group your social media policy needs to be tailored to reflect what is going to happen in your business.
No two policies will be exactly the same but as a minimum they will all have:
- Information about the copyright laws. This sets out what employees can and cannot use to post or share about the business.
- Provide a clear process and determine a contact for social media accounts and delicate situations that arise (i.e. bad reviews, wrongful information).
- Prohibition against posting confidential information about the business.
- Time Schedule for Posting (hourly, daily, weekly – and on which sites).
Once you have your policy then you will probably have to amend the contracts of employment for all of the employees as you will not want them to be posting the wrong stuff either officially whilst at work or privately when they go home and log on to your facebook page and make a post complaining about you or a customer.
Your Reputation Is Important
It is not unknown for people to leave or publish negative reviews, negative discussions, and even false accusations about a business. Therefore the business should have a plan or procedure in place for protecting, defending and – if needed – removing damaging information from the public eye.
It is an interesting rant about some of the more unpleasant ways of mis-managing your reputation.
It can only turn people away from your business as they will perceive it as unpleasant.
The benefit of managing perception changes in a business’s reputation is that it builds credibility and trust among those who determine whether or not it will succeed namely the customers and potential customers.
The ways you manage perception changes in a business’ reputation are as follows:
1.Determine the cause of the poor reputation. Before you can fix a problem, you need to know the cause of the problem. Ordering better quality products, for example, won’t help improve the business’s reputation if the cause of the problem is poor customer service and vice versa.
2.Announce any changes that have been made. The best way to convince people that the business does not reflect its reputation is to clearly spell out any positive changes that have been made. The easiest way to do so is by social media. Get the word out that the business has changed for the better by mentioning what has been done to improve it.
3.Focus on the customer. The way your customers perceive the business changes will depend on the level of customer service it provides. Overcoming a bad reputation requires the business to give its full attention to the customer.
Don’t stop your customer service efforts once the customer has decided to make a purchase. Continue helping the customer and ensuring he is satisfied even after he leaves by calling and ensuring the product or service he ordered has met his expectations.
4.Train the staff. Instruct and train employees to demonstrate a positive, welcoming attitude. Explain that negativity and rudeness are never acceptable even when merited or at least understandable.
Avoid a Blame Culture
Having a policy helps everyone involved to know what is expected of them. It is meant to encourage good relations and not just to find a scapegoat if and when things go wrong.
It will stop people from making it up as they go along and making mistakes….. even if they have the best of intentions.
In most small businesses the social media activity will be carried out usually by a single person who reports back to the boss. But it is the boss who is risking the reputation of the business if it is not clear what can and what must not be done.
If you have not yet got a social media policy in place….then don’t just think about it….get one!
My thanks for reading….and as always please click the button