Social media policies are essential, but many companies fail to have one in place even with the omnipresence of social media in our lives. However, just like the telephone and computer – each of which were revolutionary when first introduced to the workplace – social media needs rules, standards and best practices to ensure it being a tool to build your business and not a weapon of destruction.

Don’t wait until a misstep occurs to take your company’s social media policy seriously! Read on to learn our top guidelines so you can be sure your business is protecting itself and its presence online.

#1. Word Travels Fast

Our world is truly connected. Due to the nature of social media, it’s far too easy for things to spiral out of control quickly. Because of this, you must actively protect your company’s social media identity. A post made to your social media account can be easily viewed and shared–which is great when it’s on target and tragic when it’s tone deaf or legally actionable. This can be very problematic for a small business or start-up as you are working to increase your credibility and brand presence online.

This means that the person in charge of your social media management must be acutely aware not only of your business goals, but also the culture of your company and the message you wish to communicate to your followers. There should be on-going, planned communication between the business owner and the social media manager to ensure that no harm is done.

#2. Be Nice

If a negative comment or post is received by the business, it is natural to want to protect and defend your company. However, a retaliatory post or message is often not the best way to proceed. No one wins in the “flame wars” and often what can seem to you to be smart and witty replies to a poor comment, come across as ill-mannered, snarky, belligerent or worse to a disinterested party. You also don’t want to create a situation where you incur legal liability by making defamatory or disparaging comments about the other person.

Instead, reach out to the complainant and see how you can resolve the situation. While doing so, you can ask that they remove the negative review, or amend it to include the resolution. Often, people want to be heard and are trying to get attention by these types of comments and you can de-escalate and remove them by handling in a professional and polite manner.

love law firm, Francine e love, small business law, social media policy
#3. Employees Reflect Your Company

We’ve all seen online situations where a squabble breaks out between people and the friends of those in the fight join in. This “swarming” behavior can create a very hostile environment and is not a brand image you want to project. If you are criticized online, be sure that your employees know that they should not leap to your defense, nor should they attack or belittle the person making the accusation, or any other unpleasant behaviors. 

Likewise, you don’t want your employees necessarily pitching your products and services in a way you don’t know about and approve ahead of time. Some of our clients work in regulated industries where employees are not permitted to engage in marketing or other sales-type behavior. Other clients have to worry about regulated products where certain claims cannot be made about their efficacy or strength without governmental review. Ensure that your employees know what they can and can’t do to support the business through well thought out social media policy.

#4. Educate Your Workforce

In addition to spelling out the business's social media policy, considering taking it one step further by educating your workforce. From providing facts and figures about what social media done well can do for a business, to highlighting cases of social media gone wrong for other brands. These simple touches can help to illustrate the importance of having a solid presence on social media and to think before they click send on their next post.

Are you looking to draft your business's social media policy? Reach out today and we can discuss the current best practices to ensure your small business or start-up is protected. 

Francine E. Love
Connect with me
Founder and Managing Attorney at Love Law Firm, PLLC which dedicates its practice to New York business law