Developing a Social Media Policy

Welcome to the first in the series of the Optix Solutions “Coffee Table Talks” videos. We will be releasing videos on a monthly basis that provide top advice on Digital Marketing that covers everything from tips on Email Marketing, to PPC Management, Video, Search, Social Media and much much more!

Olly: Hi there and welcome to this very special edition of Coffee Table Talks – I’m Olly Harrison. We have Alastair Banks with us today and Al, you are going to talk to us a little bit about developing a social media policy for your company.

Al: Yes I am, it’s weird to have things flipped on me today…So, what are the things you need to think about when creating a social media policy? I guess there’s a couple of things you need to consider, the first is whether the policy is being written for somebody in your business who’s running your social media on your behalf, so the company accounts, or whether this is just a member of your staff who will have social media policies, personal ones, that they’re running for themselves, so obviously you need to think about that. You probably need to think about platforms that they’re actually out there on, so covering off things like what they should be doing on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and again that will differ depending on whether they are running corporate accounts or personal accounts. I’d always advise taking legal advice on this kind of thing because we’re not legal eagles but we’ve got a lot of friends who are and who have helped us put ours together. For me it’s less about having a big stick to hit people with and saying “You should not do this”, it’s about making people aware that social media is brilliant for business but it needs to be treated carefully so just be aware of these things and if you go out and do this properly it’s going to help you both in your career development and also your business.

Olly: I guess there might be a few people out there watching this thinking “Do I really need a social media policy, you know, are you guys being serious?” Can you give any examples of where things have gone wrong or where people have been fortunate enough to have a policy in place and as a result have avoided any potential disasters?

Al: Yes, again, I’m not going to profess to be a legal eagle but I have sat in a number of presentations where solicitors especially, talk me through court cases that have come up and where a social media policy has actually saved them, or not saved them. A couple of examples that have sprung to mind (and I forget the court cases themselves, forgive me on that), but as owners of business you can be held precariously liable I think is the term, which basically means I could be held liable on your behalf if you say something on your social media platforms about another member of staff or about one of my competitors. So, if I haven’t put in place processes to: A) Give you a policy to say don’t do that and B) Give you sufficient training on social media so that you know the dos and the donts, I can be held liable. That could include fines against my company for defamatory comments but it could also be if you say something about another member of the team here, there could be actions brought against me just because I run the business. There are things we need to think very carefully about when it comes to social media. I personally think that’s one of the forgotten areas of social media, something that business owners need to think very carefully about.

Olly: So what we’re saying is, with a relatively small amount of effort it’s worth having these things in place?

Al: Absolutely and I know we are limited on time and this is a topic we could obviously go on about for hours, so I guess my advice is to make sure you take professional advice, get a decent quality social media policy in place but don’t make it a “big stick” one. The guys that are growing up these days, coming out of university, they’ve never known a world without the internet so they are so engrained with it, they use their phones for this sort of thing you can’t block this on your network nowadays. Embrace it, make sure it’s part of the policy, and then the most important thing is give them sufficient training to make sure they know about the policy properly and know what’s right and what’s wrong.

Olly: Thanks very much, that’s the end of Coffee Table Talks today, Al Banks, talking about social media policy as a business owner. Many thanks.

Al: Thank you. Keep an eye out for our next “Coffee Table Talks” video for more advice on the world of digital marketing.

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