The 4 Biggest Reasons Why Your Company Needs an Official Social Media Policy

By Larry Alton

If your company has a presence on social media (and it should), then you need to make sure you have a social media policy that keeps everyone accountable. If you don’t, social media will end up being more of a distraction than an aid.

What Is a Social Media Policy?

According to data from Pew Research Center, 69% of adults use some sort of social media. Despite this, only 27 percent of companies have any sort of social media policy in place. That creates a pretty noticeable gap through which a lot of unfortunate and preventable incidents occur.

A social media policy isn’t some foolproof mechanism designed to prevent anything that could go wrong from going wrong, but it is a step in the right direction. As social media strategist Jennifer Beese explains it, “A social media policy is a code of conduct that provides guidelines for employees who post content online either as part of their job description or personal brand.”

In most cases, a social media policy has two primary goals. To start, “it sets expectations for appropriate behavior online with regard to the company,” Beese says. Secondly, “it protects employers from legal issues or potential social media crises.”

Put simply, a social media policy is a proactive approach to an area of PR that has traditionally been dealt with in a reactionary manner.

4 Reasons You Need a Social Media Policy

Why, then, do 73% of companies lack a social media policy? It’s not that they don’t believe in setting expectations and legally protecting themselves. In most cases, it’s simply a byproduct of ignorance—they don’t understand the value in having a policy. If that’s true for you, here are a few specific reasons why you need to take a closer look:

1. Brings Purpose to Social Media

Have you ever considered why so many companies have embarrassing moments where inappropriate or offensive posts are published on their accounts? It’s not that the people behind the keyboard are stupid or hateful. It has more to do with a lack of focus. They’ve never been told the “why” behind social media.

Instead of just talking about the things that employees can’t do, a social media policy should explain what employees can do. As a result, it brings clarity and purpose to the mission and keeps people from making dumb mistakes that are rooted in a lack of knowledge.

2. To Protect Confidential Information

When it comes to managing intellectual property, one of the gravest mistakes companies make is failing to address social media. This oversight may seem innocuous, but it can come back to bite you.

“Most companies have standard confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with no mention of social media. They should change these agreements or create new ones that include provisions about social media,” IP lawyer Robert Klinck notes. “Always make sure that every employee with access to proprietary information signs a confidentiality or nondisclosure agreement that includes social media amendments.”

Additionally, a social media policy can be used …read more

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