Social media can be a great opportunity for companies, but it is also a potential minefield. Many companies and individuals have found that even a single poorly thought out post or tweet can quickly go viral, causing major damage to their brand.
Every company that operates on social media should have a social media policy. This is not just a paragraph or two; it is a multi-page document that outlines many important considerations about how the company is going to operate on social media, such as:
- What is the company’s brand and how does it want to reflect that on social media
- What are the goals of the program
- Who is authorized to write online for the company, and what are the necessary approvals (in some industries those can include legal)
- If and when individuals should be identified in their tweets and posts
- How should the social media team respond to typical posts from others such as compliments (“Thank you…!”), complaints (“We’re sorry…”), and service requests (get those quickly directed to offline resources, don’t go back and forth with an annoyed customer in full public view).
- When and how to escalate unexpected communications
- When, if ever, humor is appropriate
- How should employees who are not part of the official company social media team operate online: Are they encouraged to be active on social media? Should they say in their profile that all posts are personal opinions, etc.
A thorough social media policy that is distributed and discussed can save a company a mountain of grief and enable it to successfully take advantage of social media to engage with customers and prospects, grow the brand and increase sales.