Every business or organisation using social media should have a policy in place to cover and protect both the business and the employees in the event that something goes wrong, but it can also help to prevent things from going wrong in the first place.

A social media policy will provide a framework for using social media and set out your objectives, it also informs employees about what is and isn’t acceptable and sets out mitigating actions in case something unfortunate happens.

So, what do you need to consider when you want to put together a social media policy to protect your business/organisation? We have 10 top tips to help you when it comes to what to include in your policy:

1. Scope — what is the purpose and reason behind your policy?  Include a definition of what you mean by the term social media for the purpose of the policy. Who will it apply to? What will they learn and take away after they read the policy?

2. Aims and Objectives — what does the business/organisation want to achieve from social media? Will the business/organisation be actively using social media or will it be more passive and just listen and only respond to mentions?

3. Security, safety and privacy — Who will be responsible for social media within the business/organisation, what will their duties cover? Who will set up accounts and issue passwords? What information about the business/organisation and its staff is it appropriate to put in profiles and posts? Protect confidential and proprietary information. Ensure that it is clear that the rights and privacy of people are protected when posting anything onto social media accounts.

4. Copyright, ownership of data, fair use and data protection — Set out whose responsibility it is to ensure that content is appropriate and does not breach copyright. Include links to legal definitions where possible, ensure that you have the rights to use something and always ensure that proper credit is given to people for their work.

5. Branding — Set out your branding guidelines for social media i.e., what logos to use, what colours and fonts for social media profiles etc.

6. Tone — Do you want the business represented in a professional and formal tone, or slightly less formal and conversational?  Whatever tone you set should reflect how your business/organisation wants to be perceived. It’s very often the first introduction people will have to your business.

7. Defamation  and unsuitable content — It’s too easy to fall foul of the law.  Everyone using social media has the ability to broadcast to a large audience but very few will have been trained on the law relating to broadcasting. Include a definition of defamation along with examples of other types of unsuitable content e.g. anything racist, offensive, rude, aggressive etc

8. Personal use and monitoring — Instead of trying to shut down your employees use of social media during the working day it may be better to encourage the activity within specific parameters set out in the social media policy and in line with the IT policy if applicable e.g. acceptable times for employees to be on social media sites during the day.  If the business/organisation intends to monitor employees personal accounts on social media sites then do inform them that this will happen.

9. Disclaimer — It is a good idea to put in a clause that requires employees to clearly identify themselves as an employee or user and include a disclaimer if they comment on any aspect of the business/organisation on social media stating that the views expressed are theirs alone and do not represent the view of the business/organisation.

10. Breaches — Employees should have clear expectations of what disciplinary action will be taken if their posts, comments or actions put them in breach of the social media policy.

These are not intended as an exhaustive list, just a place to start from but if you haven’t got time or don’t feel you can write your own policy we can help. So don’t get caught in the rain without an umbrella to protect you, put your policy in place today.