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What is a social media policy? It is a rule book that states how your business, your employees, whether they are on or off working hours, should use social media.

If you are not on social media, do you need such a policy? Of course, you do. Because even if your business isn't on social media, your employees are.

Imagine a situation where your employees are on Facebook, clearly identify themselves as working for your company, and then go off the rails using inappropriate or worse, illegal comments. This could lead to a lot of problems, for them, but also your brand.

There is a debate on the reach that a company can have on the personal lives of its employees ( and this aspect is far from being resolved, but it is certain that without a clear guideline, the situation could be worst. Having a policy guide and clear explanations, even if a court were to invalidate certain aspects of your policy, the fact remains that expectations have been laid out and certain behaviors are expected. This should contain the normal interactions of people on social media.

The purpose of this article is not to provide legal advice on what a policy should contain and what could be invalidated by a court of law. We want to outline what this policy should cover and why is it important for your business. For legal advice, you should consult a lawyer in your area.

Why a social media policy?

  • To standardize your communications across different platforms.
  • To be able to react quickly should a problem arises.
  • To avoid public relations problems.
  • To inform your employees about their responsibilities as well as the opportunities for the company and themselves.
  • Make your employees brand ambassadors.
  • What information should be included in your social media policy?

    1. Who does what on your team: including names, emails, and phone contact so they are easy to reach when needed.

  • Identify who is the community manager,
  • Who and when to contact human resources,
  • Who and when to notify managers,
  • Who to contact for legal issues,
  • IT manager (IT, software, computer network, firewall, Internet access, etc.),
  • Security manager (web site, online applications, antivirus, encryptions, cloud accounts, etc.),
  • Advertising, marketing, and communication,
  • Customer service representatives,
  • Others.
  • 2. Security protocols:

  • Managing and updating passwords,
  • Software update,
  • Update applications,
  • Who to contact in case of problems with these points.
  • 3. Media crisis: if you have a problem on social media, who should you talk to? How do you react? What should you publish? What constitutes a crisis? Here are some situations that can arise. Are they defined as crises for your company?

  • There is a customer complaint on social networks (Facebook, Tweeter, Google my Business, etc.),
  • There is a spam attack,
  • A former employee criticizes your company on social media,
  • Rumors are circulating about you (merger, acquisition, closure, investigation, health problem, sexism, racism, etc.),
  • Others.
  • 4. Learn about the laws in your area that govern communication, privacy, labor relation, false accusations, copyright, and trademarks.

    5. Coach your employees well on personal posts,

  • Establish guidelines for publications between employees of different hierarchical levels,
  • Employee publications on their account in the name of the company (brand ambassador),
  • Personal publications of employees.
  • Even if employees publish on their accounts, some laws govern what is allowed and what is not. It would be a good practice to not only put these specifications in the policy and specify the possible consequences of these posts. But also organize a little training to have everyone on the same page. Harassment, hateful posts, racist, homophobic, or sexist comments can be against your values, your code of conduct, and the law. A good awareness session can go a long way in preventing them, and how to react to them.

    Here are some examples of what some large companies are doing as social media policies:

  • Adidas,
  • FedEx,
  • Mayo Clinic,
  • Reuters,
  • General Motors.
  • The last two points: make sure your charter is easily accessible no matter where your employees are. And do a review once a year. Things change so quickly on the Internet.

    If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.


    Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
    Marketing consultant