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How to Design an Effective Social Media Policy for Your Business
The ubiquitous reach and influence of social media are not up for debate anymore. Businesses everywhere now seek to leverage the power of social media to connect with existing and prospective customers, their workforce, and a plethora of other stakeholders.
Building a robust social media presence allows an organization to better market itself, scale up its business, develop strong relationships with customers while ensuring people keep conversing and interacting with the business.
This is true whether you’re a for-profit or non-profit organization. In fact, it’s critical that a nonprofit business plan discuss how it will use social media as effectively using this medium can significantly improve its success.
If a business fails to lay down an effective social media policy, it loses out on the above-mentioned benefits while opening itself up to innumerable risks and malpractices. Risks like wasting of business hours and business resources, confidentiality breaches, harassment claims, fraud, and privacy concerns among other issues.
Every business, therefore, needs to prioritize creating and implementing a social media policy that clarifies how the business and its employees are expected to use social media for business purposes. And it must also include a code of conduct for employees using social media in a purely personal capacity. Needless to say, the policy framework must keep in mind both an employee’s right to privacy along with the scale of a business’s online exposure.
Below, we highlight some crucial aspects every business must cover in their social media policy to keep it in check while hopefully increasing your profit margins:
Effective Social Media Policy: Specify Social Media
For starters, every for-profit and nonprofit social media policy must establish what is meant by the term ‘social media’. It needs to clearly explain what all will be covered under the purview of this term. Organizations need to strike a balance here, ensuring the definition is neither too narrow to become ineffective nor too broad to become impractical.
Employees need to be mindful regarding how they interact with different social media platforms as it has an impact on an organization’s reputation. Moreover, because social media is a forever expanding space, social media policy needs to be a flexible document to account for new platforms that become available online every day.
Define Suitable/Unsuitable Online Behavior
A comprehensive social media policy must elaborate on how a business expects its employees to behave online.
Offensive posts/comments that damage an organization’s reputation need to be emphasized as completely unacceptable. Moreover, posts/comments that breach contracts, confidentiality, and divulge proprietary information also need to be flagged as entirely unacceptable.
The social media policy must also talk about whether accessing social media at the workplace is permissible or not. A complete ban on social media at work might be impractical and even backfire. It makes a business seem distrustful of its employees and their ability to manage their work and time effectively.
This will breed resentment and may reflect negatively on employee productivity and engagement in the long run. Instead, employees can be encouraged to access social media only during their lunch and coffee breaks to avoid repeated distractions.
In the end, much will depend on the industry a particular business operates in.
Nevertheless, the rules must be clear to avoid any misunderstanding and misuse.
Violating the Policy
The social media policy must also clearly highlight the consequences employees can expect to face if they violate the policy in any way. Instate a disciplinary process to look into any such violations. And the repercussions must be congruent with the seriousness of the breach. Moreover, employees must be updated about any changes occurring in the policy.
Training employees about social media ethics and expected standards of online behavior will mitigate risks to a considerable extent. It will also ensure that employees have complete clarity on what is expected of them.
The focus should be on building a reasonable social media policy that does not feel stifling to an employee but that also safeguards a business’s reputation.