Whenever I advise my clients to create a social media policy outline, they always respond by asking what it should say. There are several different approaches you can take when creating a social media policy. Aim to make the policy specific and relevant to your firm. Also make sure it coincides with your compliance regulations. Here are a few simple steps to get you started.
- First, address the purpose of social media. Why is your business using social media? Why are you crafting a social media policy? What should a reader take away after reading about your policy? These are all important questions that need to be addressed in the introduction of your policy outline. In essence, you need to set the stage and make sure everyone is clear on the “why’s.”
- Define “social media.” Next is the “what.” What is social media? What social-media platforms is your business going to be using? Once again, it is important to lay the groundwork. Assume your readers aren’t well versed in social media.
- Personal websites. Before you delve into the social-media best practices of your business, establish guidelines for how employees should conduct and present themselves on their personal pages. In light of the assumption that employees are speaking on behalf of the organization, ensure that their communications are transparent, ethical and accurate. Also establish guidelines for how employees should engage with clients.
- Establish “best practices” for the various platforms. Establish general guidelines and best practices for the various social-media platforms. How should your associates conduct themselves on social media? What are the compliance regulations set forth by FINRA and the SEC? Here are a few topics you may want to address:
- Controversial issues
- Conflicts of interest
- Confidential information
- Responsibility, best judgment, ethics
When creating these guidelines remember the three S’s of social media policies: Be simple (avoid jargon and technical language), be short (avoid wordiness) and be specific (avoid vagueness).
Protocols for crisis situations. Many companies fail to include this element in their social-media policy. Let’s face it: People (and businesses) are fallible—and it’s better to prepare for a crisis situation, such as a computer server going down, than get caught by surprise.