Social Media Policies - A "Get Out Of Jail Free" Card?

You hear a lot of companies doing their best to jump on board constructing "Social Media Policies" (SMP). SMP are indeed the foundation from which you must not only hire the respective positions from but mandate that anyone within your company that uses social media tools understands. We here so much about a few key strokes ruining brands these days with the misuse and lack of understanding that can come from not using social media properly. It's also important to have a social ten (or however many that is needed) commandments document to always have to show to the general public as well as your company. This is of growing importance and is something you MUST do in today's professional world.

Let's outline what you should have in your Social Media Policy:

Introduction of purpose
This sounds simple enough but often times takes great thought. This is a daring combination of a mission statement, methodology and social trust must communicate you as "humans" from the voice of your brand. It cannot sacrifice the company's montra but must also empower the individual social/community director to speak for it.

Set delivery expectations
Setting social expectations of your staff will be the cornerstone of how you use the social media for communication, support and (God forbid) crisis management. This means that when you want make sure that people are answering comments and questions in a timely manner as well as, using the right tool for the right audience. There are different 'social classes' if you will that use Facebook vs. Twitter vs. Linkedin, etc. And speaking to them requires a knowledge of the tool, the demographic and lexicon of a given application.

Authenticity and transparency
Complete transparency, honest and genuine authenticity MUST be the golden social rule in this document. Documenting anything but the truth in a format this permanent is not only unwise but legally binding.

Paula Berg, former head of Southwest's Social Media department says that you can fail to be the best for your customer if you're too busy making up rules to protect yourself. I believe she is right. And while this document should be use to serve as a guideline, you cannot ever control the unforeseen. Therefore it's best to take each moment on as a case-by-case basis. Southwest would also publicly make crisis moments a way to create a case study and publish it to the world saying: This is what happened. This is what we did. This what we learned and hope to address in the future.

Define your ethics and judgement
You have to be honest and forthright about your company, it's products and services. Much like being transparent you must also be complete in your communications, and thereby make the best decision. Marcus Nelson, of goes further to ask any questionable or bad situation that's brought to his teams attention to ask the customer to document the situation as throughly as possible in email. This way he can make the most educated decisions.

Equate this to you being the directions on how to dismantle a bomb, don't make it up or the repercussions could be nightmarishly extreme. If you don't know something, you're human ^ tell them you will find out and be sure to make good on your follow-up.

Copyrights, fair use and linking
You should have something in your SMP that outlines your photographic, media and content linking policies.

Confidentiality of your company
It's important to have a document that also outlines that not all communication and information is available with social media. You must protect your intellectual property and intelligence assets of your company. As well it's important in social communications with your customer NOT to ask for anything that would violate their confidentiality. An example of this would be account numbers, address or anything that could connect the user publicly to the social network.

Set social media consistency as one of your highest expectations. You muss attend to each customer in a consistent matter that is in the voice of your brand, but the heart of the employee.

Digital finality
Also it's important to acknowledge that what happens in the social and digital realm will be there for all time. Your staff, company and brand will be measured on an ongoing basis by the active pursuit of social perfection.

Additional Resources:

While of course there's no real get out of jail free card there are ways to protect you and your brand. What are you thoughts? Was this article beneficial? Please share it below and spread the joy.