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Dude, Where’s My Social Media Policy?

If Coca Cola’s Social Media policy is only three pages, why does mine need to be any different? It’s a fair question until you look at the finer details.

Creative Commons License photo credit: quinn.anya

Here’s Peter Kim for example, ‘From our work over the past two years, I can tell you that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to social media policy. Based on our client advisory work, Ellen Reynolds and Kate Rush Sheehy are proposing a panel for South by Southwest 2011, called How Social Policies Affect Company Culture. If selected, Ellen and Kate will share their experiences with you that they’ve gained across multiple client engagements while assisting with policy creation and launch.

Non-Negotiable Points in Social Media Policy?

His intention is to cover four areas:

  • Importance of having a defined social media policy
  • Non-negotiable points that all social media policies must cover.
  • How to create, approve and enforce your social media policy (three very detailed topics).
  • Importance of accurately reflecting your unique company culture in your policy, and how to use your policy to encourage the right level of internal and external participation.

How To Encourage Participation in Your Social Media Policy

He then adds that they’ll answer these questions from a client-side perspective:

  1. What information must my social media policy cover?
  2. Who should be involved in the creation and approval process?
  3. How can I make sure my social policy is a good fit for my company/company culture?
  4. How do I make sure that my policy is encouraging participation rather than hindering it?
  5. How often do I need to revisit my policy?

Mistakes to Avoid

Peter makes some good points here. For example, why would a small company need a large (i.e. greater word count) Social Media policy than a larger one? Well, they may already have a library of policies in place and the Social Media policy dovetails into other policies, such as Code of Conduct and Harassment policies.

Smaller firms may not have this level of detail in place and so, in some ways, may be starting from scratch.

It gets more complicated…

How can I make sure my social policy is a good fit for my company/company culture?

Coca Cola, for instance, as a consumer-facing organization, want to maximize Social Media and use these channels wherever possible.

It doesn’t want to risk alienating its own employees for using Facebook, Twitter and MySpace (it’s still there!).

Maybe your business profile is different.

And his last point has me thinking, ‘how to encourage participation rather than hinder it?’

What do you think? What mistakes do we need to avoid?

Join The Conversation

  • Dec 28 Posted 6 years ago Anna (not verified)

    Hi Ivan,

    One way to get buy-in to the development of these policies is to outline where and how you can save money and reduce costs. I wrote some articles for the Klariti Small Business site here

    I hope this isn't too self-promotional as the tutorials may be of use to your colleagues.



  • Courtney Hunt's picture
    Dec 18 Posted 6 years ago Courtney Hunt

    Thanks for reminding folks that there's no simple solution to devising social media policies, and no "one size fits all" approach.

    One of the most important points to remember is that - however it's defined - a social media policy is part of a larger set of employee policies that can be impacted by digital technology. In addition to assessing whether their organization needs a social media policy, leaders need to evaluate their entire handbook to determine whether and how other policies need to be updated as well. In conducting this review, it's critical to balance the legal and business perspectives and devise an approach that also balances employer and employee interests. And finally, once the changes are made, training is critical - not just for employees, but also for managers who have unique responsibilities and concerns they'll have to address.

    I am developing a white paper that provides a comprehensive review of the legal/policy landscape for organizations resulting from changes in digital technology. In the meantime, folks might be interested in the following pieces that touch on some of these points:

    - Social Screening: Candidates - and Employers - Beware (

    - Social Screening: the Expanded Discussion (

    - The NLRB's Recent Action: Separating Fact from Fiction - and Unfounded Fear (

    We also regularly address legal and policy issues through the SMinOrgs S.M.A.R.T. News Digest. People can learn more and subscribe here:


    Courtney Hunt - Founder, Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community

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