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Developing a Social Media Policy

March 3, 2011

Most (if not all) of your employees have an online presence. Whether or not they are directly involved in the implementation of your social media strategy, it is important for your company to have a social media policy that makes expectations clear. This policy should address how employees talk about the company as well as how they conduct themselves as representatives of the company.

I am currently doing some work with a child care center and one of our tasks has been to develop a set of principles to be given to employees. These principles were developed to help the center manage its reputation and help employees manage the balance between their personal and professional lives.

Social Media Principals

Be responsible
– The Center encourages employees to engage in social media for personal use and on behalf of the organization. When conducting yourself online, you are responsible for the content that you post.

Be respectful
– Conducting yourself with respect is always a good idea. When discussing The Center, its mission, employees and customers, do so with respect.

Follow policy
– All Center policies apply when speaking about your work, or the work of the center online.

Full disclosure
– When discussing the Center, always disclose that you are an employee.
– Never misrepresent the Center or mislead people.

Know that the internet is permanent
– Once something is posted to the internet, it is permanent; be mindful of this.
– Think before posting, especially in emotional situations.

Understand privacy settings
– It is common for your work life to intersect with your personal life. It is your responsibility to understand and use privacy settings when posting content. This is especially important when maintaining relationships with parents.

Confidentiality
– Always remember that interactions with children and their families are to be kept confidential. Center privacy policies should be followed online.

When in doubt – ask
– If you are not sure if something is ok, or if you see something online you’re unsure of how to respond to – ask!

Although the principles you develop for your company will differ based on your policies and industry, this list provides a good starting point. The next step would be to present your policy to your employees. Employees will probably respond best if the presentation is done in a positive and light tone. To really help your employees understand the policy and how it affects their social media use, it can be presented in conjunction with social media training – especially on the use of privacy settings.

Does your company have a social media policy? If so, is it effective? If not, do you believe it would be beneficial?

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