As you dive into the social media world, what are the limits for doing so and how do you do it without causing more problems than the benefits produced? That is where policies come into play. As you engage the wonderful, incredible world of social media you need to think through the parameters of doing so.
Clara Shih discusses this in her book The Facebook Era, which I reviewed here. You need to think through and communicate to all your staff how to proceed. That is what we call setting a policy.
Some of the author’s suggestions are to remind staff they have been entrusted with the organization’s brand and reputation, set rules for moderating comments, and set expectations for how staff conduct themselves. More factors to consider are how to protect the brand, guard reader’s & customer’s privacy, and avoid stepping across any legal lines. Other ideas that come to mind are to outline the overall strategy, define areas of responsibility (who will make it happen), and make sure that all of the areas that need to be involved have a voice in the planning and execution (you really need to have fulfillment and accounting in the loop so they can be ready for what is about to happen). All of those ideas are part of explaining how you want to proceed.
The State of Utah has developed a great social media guideline for its employees. The author of The Facebook Era likes that guideline so much she quotes it for three full pages. Some of the guidelines ‘rules of engagement’ include topics such as transparency, judicious (watch out for legal, privacy & confidentiality issues), knowledgeable, perception (staff represent the state when they speak so keep that in mind), conversational, leadership, responsibility (it is on your shoulder if you write, so be careful), and mistakes (if you mess up, admit it quickly and correct yourself).
I particularly like the mistakes comment. Our culture is quite forgiving when someone admits their goofs and corrects themselves. That’s not the case when much of the world knows you are wrong but you refuse to admit it. In the internet era, you need to be fast with a correction and apology.