How to Write a Social Media Policy in Under an Hour

Mac and I recently gave a presentation on social media at the annual conference for the Nonprofit Network of Southwest Washington. We received many thoughtful questions during our 90 minute session but one more than others, “Do I need a social media policy?”

Yes, nonprofits of the world! Yes you do– for many reasons. Even if you think you company will never, ever, ever, ever use social media, you need a policy because it:

  • Helps protect against intentional or unintentional damage to your nonprofit’s online or real world reputation when employees go rogue
  • Empowers your employees to do the right thing with your brand in the online environment
  • Defines company expectations around use of social media and expectations for engaging on social media on behalf of your organization
  • Provides legal guidelines

Need more? Read OpenForum.com’s ‘Employees Gone Wild: 8 Reasons You Need a Social Media Policy TODAY.’

Despite the obvious benefits, however, I had several attendees confess to me that they don’t currently have a policy in place simply because they don’t know where to start and what to include–it seems like a tedious and time consuming task, they tell me.

It’s not! Curate these eight, easy to gather pieces of information and you’ve got a social media policy on your hands—and (hopefully) in under an hour!

  1. Your expectations for how employees should represent your organization when interacting on social media. Make sure to share any disclaimer you’d like them to use if they are representing you in an unofficial capacity
  2. Contact information for appropriate staff members who can help them better understand your social media policy
  3. Legal guidelines for using copyrighted or trademarked materials
  4. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities for how various people and groups are permitted to engage on social media on behalf of the company
  5. Some brief explanation of your company’s goals for using social media
  6. Information on if and when the use of personal social media is permitted on company time
  7. Procedures for launching a new social media profile on behalf of your organization (if allowed)
  8. Rules around addressing (or ignoring) negative comments addressed to the company

Need examples? Check out Social Media Governance’s robust database of social media policies, including a breakdown by industries like nonprofit and healthcare.

What else should you include in a social media policy? Tell me in the comments.

Jennie Day-Burget

Former Vice President and Managing Director Jennie Day-Burget is a lover of surprises, wine and chevron (the pattern, not the oil company). Jennie has worked in communications and public relations for more than a decade and cites the hashtag (#) as her favorite communications innovation.
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