If you’re a business online, you should think about your social media guidelines. As a company, you should encourage your team to be active on social media and to actively promote your company. But there’s little point spending time trying to make your employees advocates of your company online if they don’t have any policies to follow. Why? Let’s dig into that.

The Benefits of Social Media Guidelines

To clarify, these social media guidelines for employees cover what your own team should (and shouldn’t) say, what topics they should cover, how they should (and shouldn’t) access their profiles, and other details regarding social media.

This isn’t about what your customers should do. It’s about what your team should do.

Learn from other’s mistakes

Many of the points you’ll find on big-name social media policies – we’ve shared a few at the end of this post for your inspiration – are points they learned the hard way. Learn from their experience, to avoid security breaches, libel, and other reputation-damaging events.

Empower and encourage advocacy

Without guidelines, your employees might be too worried about getting it wrong. Plus, they might not even know how to use social effectively. In that instance, guidelines can be as educational as they are “regulational”. Guidelines help encourage advocacy and make it clear what people can do. Make it inspirational!

Be consistent and omnichannel

Businesses need to be omnichannel, not just multi-channel. This means that your employees should have an understanding of different departments and who does what. So when someone asks them a question about your company, even if it’s not their ‘field’, they’ll know who to send the question to. (Here’s more on what omnichannel marketing actually is.)

Guidelines will also help everyone stick to message: you don’t want people saying one thing on the company’s profile and something else on their individual profiles!

Make Sure You’re Following the Rules

Your employees still have rights, too. In the UK for example, you’ll have to keep in mind the Human Rights Act and other policies, when you outline your social media guidelines.

For example, as an employer, you do NOT have the rights to your employee’s personal contacts. And this includes their LinkedIn profile contacts. Even the ones they added to their network during, or to support, their role at your company.

Make sure your guidelines follow the rules of the individual platforms, too. Don’t tell people to break the rules, or you’ll be banned.

And never, EVER exploit the data of contacts your employees have on their personal profiles. This includes mass-contacting their LinkedIn contacts, spamming their Facebook friends, or otherwise using their personal profile contacts to your gain. Any quick gains will be overshadowed by a ruined reputation and possible data protection consequences.

Spammy guidelines won’t work in the long run, either. Don’t force your employees to comment, share, tag friends, or otherwise ‘fake’ engagement as part of their job description. It’s obvious, it won’t trick the algorithms for long, and it’ll create a toxic culture. Employee engagement is a good barometer. You want your team to do it because it’s a good fit. If your own team isn’t excited by the content you’re sharing, who will be?

What to Include In Your Social Media Guidelines for Employees

Your Company’s Policies and Commitments

Clearly define how brand assets can be used. Talk about how your ‘official’ profiles conduct themselves, as a starting point. Remind employees of their contractual obligations, too, and what policies apply to them and what they say about the company, even on personal profiles. (Customer data protection is an obvious one.)

Your Company’s Purpose on Social Media

Make it clear why your company uses social media, the impact it has, and the impact your employees can have, too. How can social media be used in various areas of the business? Be inspiring and use actionable examples. Social media isn’t just for the marketing team, it’s for HR, recruitment, sales, and more to take advantage of, too.

Emphasise What They CANNOT Share

Spell it out so clearly that no one can claim they “didn’t realise” it couldn’t go online. Customer data, confidential business information, statistics you don’t want public, news you haven’t announced yet, et cetera are all things that should be on the list.

Be Clear That What’s Online Matters

Bullying, harassment, libel, bad-mouthing and generally bad behaviour online can actually be worse than a snide comment by the water cooler. “It’s just a tweet!” Even deleted posts could be saved somewhere. Don’t tolerate bad behaviour, and let employees know that. Social media should be a safe space.

Talk About Disclosure

Your employees should make it clear who they are online, and if relevant to their profile, what position they have at the company.

Add Some Context

What should your employees think about BEFORE they post? Would what they’re about to say make customers/clients/suppliers/etc uncomfortable or even upset with the company?

Explain Who Does What

Empower your employees with clear information on social media roles throughout the company. If someone asks them a question to a personal profile, who can they direct that person to? Can they talk to journalists? Who should they contact in a crisis, such as a hacked account?

How to Stay Safe and Stay Legal

Your guidelines should cover legal basics (such as image copyrights, libel, confidentiality, and more) plus security requirements like two-factor authentication, secure passwords, etc. And you should think about other details like not sharing devices with company-related profiles logged in.

Big-Name Policies for Inspiration

Many big-name corporations publish their social media guidelines publically. These are a great source for inspiration, particularly if you find a company in the same sector as you. Here’s a quick list:

But remember, you can’t rely on copy-pasting to make sure you’re following the rules and doing it right. (Much like any policy. Even the ICO themselves got GDPR wrong – see our post on ‘Is your cookie policy GDPR compliant?’)

Good Behaviour Starts With You

These social media guidelines aren’t just for the employees down the ladder. These are guidelines for the whole team. Is the founder a good role model online? Are the senior team members an active part of your company’s overall online presence?

Good guidelines are easy to demonstrate.

Not sure how to make the most of social media for your business? We offer a free social media audit and consultation, so you can get bespoke, actionable advice. No obligations.

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Anna Simmonds
Anna Simmonds

Anna, Head of Social, knows her beans when it comes to social media. She keeps her finger on the social pulse, funnelling her knowledge and experience into creating engaging social media campaigns. She’s also pretty decent with a camera and Photoshop.