5 Must-Haves For Your Brand's Social Media Policy

By Carrie Tylawsky Chances are, your company has a social media policy. Whether it’s buried in the back of an HR handbook or requires a full day of rigorous training to understand all the rules, almost everyone has some form of dos and don'ts when it comes to the social space. However, as social media evolves at a lightning speed, it becomes increasingly pertinent to address issues that might not have come up in the past. To get you started on the policy refresh, here are some questions/scenarios that you should prepare BEFORE it falls upon your social marketing team.

1. What happens when there is a natural or national disaster?

Typically, the best route to take when there is any kind of disaster is to go dark on social sites. Not only do people not care what your promotional material is at the time, but it’s also incredibly insensitive to continue on as though nothing has happened and your content calendar sails ahead regardless of current events. Creating a process when there is national news will allow your team peace of mind as they'll know exactly what steps to take when the unexpected occurs.

2. What happens when the person who manages social at your company leaves?

We’re still at a time when many, many brands have one or two people in a social media marketing department. Even if that person(s) is incredibly diligent about creating brand guidelines and archiving important conversations, ultimately a lot of the brand voice and experience is in their head. What is the process when that person leaves? The last thing you want to do is cultivate an engaged community and then completely go off brand when the “voice” of the page leaves.

3. What happens when someone posts something insensitive?

Insensitivity often comes from attempts to talk about something relevant and current in the news. It doesn’t always have to be to the scale of Kenneth Cole’s attempt to be witty in the wake of the disastrous Cairo protests, but even a small comment can spread across the web like wildfire. When that happens, there should be an immediate plan of action to establish one person who can make a quick decision and communicate quickly with fans and followers vs. letting it stew for hours.

4. How you can you positively engage with competitors?

We have seen some fantastic and playful conversations in the space between well-established brands (best example, JetBlue & Southwest) so we know this type of conversations illicit excitement and enthusiasm among the community. However, there needs to be guidelines. What is the company's position on engaging with a competitor and thereby opening up your own community to seeing their tweets? How far is too far? And, if a competitor makes the first move, how do you respond?

5. How far are you willing to go to surprise and delight or handle a customer service nightmare?

Essentially, how much swag do you have to play with? If you see that there is a self-made brand ambassador on your page that loves the brand and engages freely, can you reward them for their loyalty? If someone had a truly awful experience, what can you do to mend the wrong? Having these parameters set up ahead of time will allow the team to act quickly and either make a current fan incredibly happy or hopefully turn a disgruntled customer into a renewed loyal consumer.

What else would you add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!