Crafting a Social Media Policy: Tips and Considerations

Hey everyone!  Today’s post will be short and sweet as I have a lot of projects on my plate.  The main point of today’s post is to get you to think about crafting a good Social Media Policy for your company or organization.  The last several posts should be a reminder of the limitations of a Social Media Policy and how far you can go.

In several instances, overboard policies will be scrutinized and open you to lawsuits.  Completely lax or non-existent ones can also get you in trouble for not taking care of your employees’ posting behaviors during work time.   You should strive to think about what would be best practices for your company and the kind of policy that would make a good fit for it.   Lastly, you can draft your own policies, but if you are unsure the right kind of language or how such a policy would play out legally it is best to seek an expert to review and edit.   In addition, even if you don’t have time someone can work with you to come up with a policy for your review and approval.

Now let’s discuss some tips and considerations for your Social Media Policy:

  1. Purpose or goal – what are trying to accomplish with your policy?  - it is always helpful to have a starting point and place you are trying to get to with any project, and crafting a policy is not any different;
  2. Can do vs. Thou Shall Not – your policy should contain a mixture of what an employee should not do versus positive reinforcement of what they can do with social media, a lot of transparent and social organizations find great success in openness and encouragement of good behaviors;
  3. Internal vs. External – who is your audience? You can always breakdown your social media into categories, subgroups, or types of actions – the policy can start out focusing employees and how to responsibly use social media and then be expanded to how the company views social media usage when delivering its marketing and communications to the outside world;
  4. Authenticity and Accountability – make sure you are writing something genuine and that you care about, in addition, make sure your employees take responsibility with what they write and post – a lot of people feel it is ok to type whatever they feel like and shoot it off into the ether thinking a) no one is paying attention and b) there are no consequences even if they are reading – be sure to make it clear these thoughts are wrong;
  5. Respect for Intellectual Property – make sure to check with the owner of images and works if you can use them, and be sure to always attribute and not take credit for what is not yours;
  6. Protecting your Property – in the same vein that your employees should respect others, they should so respect the owner and the company, which employees them – openness does not necessarily mean sharing your trade secrets
  7. Simplicity – just because the trouble you and your employees can get into involves a lot of legality and technicalities does not necessarily mean that the policy itself has to be written that way – vague, obtuse, and unclear legalese does not help anyone figure out where you stand on a certain behavior or action; it should be clear and concise.

Thanks for reading these simple tips and remember if you always have questions or doubts seek out help!

Next time for Social Media and the Law we will be moving out of creating a Social Media Policy and entering the legal realm of evidence.  These posts will concentrate on a lot of case law and discussing the impact social media is having on the legal system.  While, most laypeople and businesses probably won’t be too interested feel free to follow along.  These posts are more for fellow attorneys curious about how social media has been brought into play during trials and litigations.

As always if you were interested in this series or my other series, like Draw the Law.  Feel free to subscribe by clicking on the “Subscribe” button on the right-hand side of this page.  You can also follow me on Twitter @RKHewesq or Like Me at "Ryan K. Hew" on Facebook.

See you next time!

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*Disclaimer:  This post discusses general legal issues, but does not constitute legal advice in any respect.   No reader should act or refrain from acting based on information contained herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.   Ryan K. Hew, Attorney At Law, LLLC expressly disclaims all liability in respect to any actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this post.