Implementing Social Media Governance within your Organization
Keep your brand well-represented online with clear social media guidelines
Social Media Governance is a collection of policy documents organizations create with the purpose of ensuring employees reflect organizational values and best practices in their professional and personal social media activities.
Lack of social media governance could result in misuse or unauthorized use of company profile credentials, inappropriate employee conduct on social media, and out of date or inaccurate social media education within your organization–all of which opens you up to legal risks, brand damage, or lost revenue.
Let’s look at the 5 Parts that make up Social Media Governance: Scope, Process for Creating and Updating Documentation, Approvals, Social Media Policy, and Education and Training.
The Scope should clearly state who and what your Social Governance applies to. For example, does it provide guidance for both customer facing social activities AND personal social media use?
Next, outline the Process for Creating and Updating Governance Documentation. This component is important for ensuring your policy keeps up with the ever evolving social media landscape. Record how your Governance documentation was created, and how it should be updated going forward, including a plan for regular maintenance. Also include mechanisms for gathering and responding to employee feedback and questions.
An Organization’s Social Governance should also cover Approvals and Operational Considerations for Internal Social Media Practitioners. This includes the process for setting up official social channels, transferring account ownership, and designating who can use official social channels and when.
Larger organizations may also specify who needs to approve social posts before they’re published, and what that approvals process looks like. Organizations that contract out part of their social media activities should also define these relationships, and how 3rd Party Contractors work with the core team.
The largest component of a Governance plan is the Social Media Policy, which protects a brand’s integrity and reputation by outlining appropriate and inappropriate uses of social media by employees, personally and professionally.
The first part of a Social Media Policy outlines Best Practices for Social Media Use; the goal here is to empower employees to represent their organization positively. Include advice for maintaining public facing profiles like LinkedIn, sharing personal content and information about the organization, and engaging with other social media users respectfully. Specify whether or not employees should interact with customers on their personal accounts, and if so, rules for engaging in positive and negative situations. And as a general best practice, strongly encourage fellow employees to keep all interactions on social positive and respectful.
Next, the Social Media Policy should outline any discouraged behaviours and activities. For example, employees shouldn’t engage with hostile customers, criticize competitors, or share strategic information.
The Social Media Policy should also outline expectations and standards for client-facing social media use - specifically, rules pertaining to employees with access to the organization’s official social channels.
Finally, be sure to clearly detail the Implications of failing to abide by the rules of the Social Media Policy, such as verbal or written warnings, penalties, or even termination.
Once your Scope, Documentation, Approvals, and Social Policy are in place, it’s time to think about Education and Training. You can create the best Governance plan in the world, but if it’s not observed by employees it won’t be effective.
Every employee is a potential brand ambassador, so think hard about how you can best educate them about your organization’s social media policies and procedures. Successful companies know that this requires working throughout the organization, including with HR and Training teams, to ensure that all staff are on board and trained up.