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Does your Social Media Policy Need Some Attention?


Agencies accrediting under CARF may have noticed that there are now standards requiring them to have policies on social media. A few years ago the NGO sector was abuzz with the trend of developing and perhaps implementing, social media policy a little too quickly. New words and concepts like “twittersphere”, “meme”, and “going viral” were flying around and everyone was playing catch up.

Fast forward to the autumn of 2014 and are you sure your policies are what you need now? More importantly, are they still effective in guiding your employees in the ever-changing social media world?

A good way to check in on your social media polices, and to see if they need some attention, might be with a survey of the media currently being used by your agency, your staff, and in your worksites. Bring in your most active users of social media and find out who’s using what, and when. Are they aware of the policies you have? Do the policies cover what is currently being used? Ask yourself if you and your employees are actually advancing your mission and “brand” through the prescribed use of social media. According to Facebook in a September 2013 report, mobile internet users are forecast to surpass hard wired internet users by 2015. I’m sorry to tell you, but that’s coming up in just a few weeks. Are you meeting the needs of your mobile consumers, families, clients, and staff?

Check to see if your agency still has an agreed upon value set around the ethical use of media. What’s acceptable to your C.E.O., may be quite different than what will pass with those staff working in IT. It is important that an agency outline exactly what is deemed acceptable and what’s not for their employees when it comes to using social media platforms in the workplace and that they train them accordingly. The freedom employees may or may not have, (for both personal use and in their representation of the agency) needs to be clarified based on each agencies unique environment.

Some agencies may choose to not cover external or personal use, but as Mark Zuckerberg famously stated in the movie The Social Media, “the internet is written in indelible ink”. We have all seen politicians, C.E.O.s, and celebrities go down in a flaming stream of career-ending comments, thanks to an opinionated tweet or an ill-advised Facebook post.

Who is responsible for ensuring your employees or C.E.O.s don’t do the same?

Is it HR? IT? Legal? One way to ensure you are not left vulnerable to a reputation-crushing post, is to spell it all out to your employees and have them sign off… i.e. have a very prescriptive code of conduct for the use of each social media platform.

Follow this link to Inc.com where there is a comprehensive list to consider.

However being too restrictive with policy could strip your staff of their right to free speech and expression outside of their employment. Being somewhat broader based from a policy perspective allows for agencies to create an opportunity to have social media work for them. In this way it can do what it is supposed to do and allow, even encourage, each employee to act as a brand ambassador for you. In other words focus your policy on what your employees CAN do rather what they can’t.

If you are thinking it might be time to revisit or re-write your social media policy, or *gasp* you don’t have one yet, below are some great resources to check out. Staying current protects you and you can be assured that social media policy isn’t like a child sitting quietly in the dining room. It’s in the rec room and wants to play.

A great list of social media policies that have been agreed to be shared as reference guides.

Policy tool is a policy generator that simplifies the process of creating guidelines that respect the rights of your employees while protecting your brand online.

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