Social Media Guidelines: draft them now!

— Author: Ilia Stechkin
Including the draft of the Social Media policies
Ilia Stechkin
A couple of weeks ago we were asked to take part in the ICO of the Eticket4 project. I decided to try myself as an advisor in inbound and community marketing. That means that I’m responsible for leading the project’s content and SMM team “on premises” and also for the supporting of other advisory board members in their public online activity related to the project. So I said to other advisors that now it’s time to communicate the project through their own audience to share their role in the project and to attract their contacts to the project in a way they will like it. Do you know what the first answer was? I bet you do, but I’ll quote it here: “Hi Ilia, would be great to have a template of the message”. All of them are experienced professionals, but they always in a hurry. They are ready to talk, but they need some ready-to-go formulas for their posts or comments. This is very common situation: your technicians are great guys who can become agents of the brand. However, they may become confused when faced with a particular communicative situation.

How to process your Social Media Policies?

To help them most effectively respond to these or other actions in social media, you should offer a set of simple recommendations. In this post, I’ll try to give you some easy-to-follow instructions.
  1. Provide your staff with corporate news and relevant links to share. As we mentioned in the previous post: “When users do this, they are re-sharing the content with their own networks. This helps you enlarge your audience.” Also, it is useful to share all official accounts and hashtags with all of your employees using in-mail.
  2. Ask your team to contribute to your brand awareness, explain to them how much you need their participation in social media coverage. Employee contribution to social media is a very important part of your Social Media Marketing. These days most of you already use some type of social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and so on. In fact, when you consider all of your team, and all of their followers, you have an audience comparable to a specialized mass media. One of my former colleagues explained: “This audience is great because we’re proud of our work, and it gives us an opportunity to spread the word to friends, colleagues, partners, and potential customers”. I continue to see great examples of employees helping to build brands, and in some cases using social media to generate sales, recruit colleagues, and build partnerships.
  3. Create the list of the relevant accounts (your partners and opinion leaders from your industry should be included in the list).
  4. Create your corporate social media policies. This document should be clear and short. Here is an example (see below).

The possible draft of your Social Media Policies

  • Work with social media. Working with social media adds a lot to sharing ideas, discovering prospective employees, spreading leads. Join the company on social networks (like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter), follow your industry’s market leaders and bright representatives to get new opinions and experiences. The company may provide you with the content or suggestions to share and recommend you opinion leaders and influential companies in your industry.
  • Represent your company. It may be useful for the company if you mention your workplace in your profile in different networks. However, if your pages are devoted to most entertaining content, the company’s reputation may suffer, so it is recommended not to disclose your employment in the network. In all cases, follow the same ways you’d behave in reality.
  • Don’t hesitate to show your personality. Your professional opinion matters, so don’t be shy to share it with other people in the industry in the way you think appropriate.
  • With all the freedom of speech, be law abiding. However stupid your interlocutors may seem, don’t break the law yourself. Your online activity must not violate the legislation of the place where you live or that you work for. Otherwise, you may do a lot of harm to the company you belong.
  • Attract attention to the links that you provide. Don’t just post a link, add some sentences explaining why you recommend to read it, how it can be useful and in what way it affected your professional view.
Although US laws tend toward freedom of speech and basic common sense will usually suffice, it’s important to note that other jurisdictions are more strict. In accordance with the laws in force in the territory of Russia, for example, the following social networking actions are considered criminal offenses:
  1. fraudulent misrepresentation resulting in consequences that cause harm to a person or organization;
  2. violation of the honor and dignity of people, of organizations, or of government institutions;
  3. disclosure of confidential information relating to the activities of partner companies;
  4. statements of a discriminatory nature;
  5. incitement to violence; inciting social, racial, national or religious hatred;
  6. calls for the violent overthrow of the government;
  7. incitement to murder;
  8. propaganda and public display of Nazi paraphernalia or symbols or paraphernalia or symbols similar to Nazi paraphernalia.
  • Be careful with information. Mind information security at any public platform, do not spread the information that can damage the company’s reputation or affluence. Avoid sharing your pass and other details, and in general, behave wisely with the information.
  • Interaction in the media. You interact when you share information, answer questions or respond to positive or negative statements or inquiries.
If you are criticized, don’t respond right away – you may give s wrong answer, which is worse than no answer at all. Remember that you are not here to show your wit, you represent the company. So if you have an idea how to answer and can prove it, send the negative comment over to the Social Media team. When you give a comment as an expert, provide information or answer questions, remember to be consistent. If you started answering and you see that the person does not understand you (or is just inattentive), don’t write the same thing over and over again – you may seem rude. Better refer to the part of the text with the necessary information, or give a link to the text where the reader can find the answer themselves, with your commentary (who you are writing to and what the recommended text is about). Do not spam in unrelated threads! Promote your colleagues as specialists who know the answer, refer to them for help professional comment. But be brave to admit if you don’t have the answer – you can ask the interlocutor to find information or express opinion: people remember those who they helped better, and think better of them.

Do it yourself or ask us to help

As you’re no doubt aware, however, there can be some pitfalls, and that’s why you need professionals to help your team avoid them. You can use internal resources of your marketing division to create Social Media support team or you can ask us to help you.  

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