Social media guidelines for employees outline how an organisation and its employees should behave online. Most of your employees will already be on social media and their online actions could have consequences for your brand.
Many companies have not even considered introducing social media guidelines, but they can be a valuable tool to help protect your company’s online reputation.
You can also use your social media guidelines to encourage employees to interact with your company’s pages and share your posts on their own pages.
Why Should I Introduce Social Media Guidelines?
Social media guidelines should not exist to control what your employees do or say online. They are to provide guidance for online behaviour. Your guidelines should make clear what is illegal, such as harassment, stalking and threats of violence and also provide legal protections for your company.
Your guidelines can help your employees to understand your social media strategy and feel more engaged with your brand. By creating guidelines, you can encourage your employees to follow your social accounts and can boost your brand’s online reputation.
Helping employees to understand social media better can also help protect them from online harassment and provide better protection against cyber security risks.
Are Social Media Guidelines The Same As A Social Media Policy?
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. A social media policy details how the company and employees should conduct themselves online and lays out the consequences for breaches of this policy. The policy will cover areas such as confidentiality, use of social media at work and should detail how the business will be monitoring for breaches. You can find more information on creating a social media policy here.
Social media guidelines are less formal and provide advice on best practices, such as how employees can conduct themselves in a positive manner when using social media.
Guidelines are also not the same as a social media style guide, which describes how those who manage company social accounts remain on-brand using visuals and tone of voice.
What Should Social Media Guidelines Include?
Social media guidelines should help your employees to feel more connected to your brand’s online presence and to enable them to help boost your online brand. Areas to consider including in your guidelines are:
Official Social Media Accounts
Include links to your official accounts in your guidelines and encourage your employees to follow you. This helps them to understand how your brand is presented on social media. If you use any hashtags as part of your branding, you should also let your employees know what these are.
Transparency is important. If your employees are posting about company-related matters on social media, they should disclose that they are an employee. Alternatively, you may ask someone who identifies that they are an employee in their bio to make it clear that their own views are not the views of your business.
You may prefer that your employees do not use their personal social media during work hours. If this is the case, you should include this in your social media guidelines.
Intellectual Property Guidelines
Employees managing your social media accounts should be aware of intellectual property and copyrights. This can include the use of unlicensed stock images or sharing a logo without the owner’s permission. If you do not own the rights to an asset or do not have permission to use it, your employees should be made aware that they should not use it.
Your employees should understand that publishing any confidential information relating to your business or your customers is not allowed. If your business handles confidential information, you may wish to impose a ban on posting any photographs taken inside the workplace without management approval.
Guidelines For Social Media Influencers
If your business uses influencers to promote its products and services online, it is a good idea to make them aware of your guidelines. A style guide will help to keep influencers on brand but your social media guidelines can help them understand your brand’s values.
Online Harassment Guidelines
At a bare minimum, your guidelines should encourage your staff to be kind online. However, you may also want to also include guidelines and advice for dealing with online trolls and bullies. Provide advice on how to report issues and provide information about how victims of harassment can get support if they need it.
Similarly, you could provide some simple rules such as don’t engage negatively with competitors, don’t respond to negative coverage and do report harassment that you have experienced.
Best Practices For Social Media Guidelines
This guide covers the main areas of focus for your social media guidelines, however not everything is relevant to every business.
Social media guidelines should be short and simple and only cover what is relevant to your business. The longer your guidelines are, the less likely it is that your employees will remember all the details. Try to avoid legalese and present your guidelines in as simple language as possible.
Once you have compiled your guidelines, make sure that all employees read and sign to say that they have understood them. Revisit your guidelines regularly and update them whenever it is necessary and make sure that your employees are aware when your guidelines are updated.