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How to Write a Social Media Policy for Your Company

How to Write a Social Media Policy for Your Company | Information literacy | Scoop.it

Having a social media policy for your business is the best way to make sure your employees know how to act on various channels. It can also help stave off legal or security problems.

Remember when Wendy’s tweeted an image of Pepe the Frog? Oops. There aren’t many more embarrassing situations than accidentally aligning one’s burger chain with white supremacists. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for a company to have to apologize for an employee’s thoughtless tweet. And it could have been avoided if that employee had been given proper guidance from the start.

In this guide you’ll find the tools you need to create a social media policy and put it in place across all your channels. We also provide a few good examples of policies from recognizable brands.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence with Hootsuite.

What is a social media policy?

A social media policy outlines how an organization and its employees should conduct themselves online. It helps safeguard your brand’s reputation and encourages employees to responsibly share the company’s message.

But, because social media moves fast, policies that are too rigid can be ineffective in a changing situation. Think of your social media policy as a set of guardrails, rather than train tracks. It should be considered a living document. Ongoing updates will be necessary.

But it doesn’t need to be an unreadable brick either.It can be as simple as this three-pager from Adidas. The goal is to provide employees with straightforward guidelines that are easy to follow.

Benefits of a social media policy

Even if your business is already established on social media, it’s never too late to draw up a policy to help guide decision making as you go forward. If you’re just building that presence now, then even better. A good policy will be even more effective if it’s implemented right away.

1. Defends against legal trouble and security risks

Social media is a complicated legal ground for things like copyright and privacy. But strong social media policies can help safeguard your organization against potential legal troubles and security risks. They outline potential threats and include instructions on how to avoid them.

The most pressing security threats vary from industry to industry. For example, in its social media policy, the Los Angeles Times warns employees, “The social media network has access to and control over everything you have disclosed to or on that site. For instance, any information might be turned over to law enforcement without your consent or even your knowledge.” For a company that relies on its ability to protect its sources, social media can be a dangerous tool if used inappropriately.

Your policy should also explain what an employee must do if they accidentally put the company’s reputation at risk, or if they fall prey to a malicious attack.

2. Empowers employees to share company messaging

Do your employees love working for your company? If they want to spread the love, give them the tools to do it in a way that ensures they don’t have to worry about getting on the wrong side of their boss.

With clear guidelines, companies can help employees understand how to use social media to promote the brand. Use your social media policy as an employee advocacy tool. Outline best practices for sharing company content on social, as well as commenting online—and when not to engage.

For example, Gap tells its employees to cool it around controversial subjects. “Be careful discussing things where emotions run high (e.g. politics and religion) and show respect for others’ opinions.” It also warns them against engaging with negative comments, posting confidential information about the company, or talking about internal strategies.

An employee advocacy tool like Hootsuite’s Amplify makes it easy for employees to share pre-approved social media content. This reduces risks to your company and ensures everything is accurate and on-brand.

3. Creates consistency across channels

What is your brand’s voice? Is it the optimistic, firm-hand-on-the-tiller voice of General Electric? The snarky, youthful voice of Wendy’s? Or is it the bonkers, over-caffeinated voice of Moon Pies? That’s for you to decide, and to communicate to the people who often form the front line of public engagement.

If you have public-facing employees, you also need to make sure they are aware of any brand standards. For example, you may want your employees’ Twitter handles to include a reference to your brand. Or you may want to have certain requirements of those who do.

At Hootsuite, we encourage employees who interact with the public on behalf of the company to create a Twitter handle using this naming convention: @Hoot[individual’s name]. This makes it easy for customers to identify Hootsuite employees and engage with them.

This part of your social media policy should also address proper use of images, video, and other media. If your business calls for social media images that are consistent with your brand, you need to outline these requirements in your policy.

What to include in a social media policy

Break your social media policy into two areas:

Social media policy for the company’s official accounts Social media policy for employees

While there is overlap between the two areas, there are aspects of both that may need specific detail. Separating them will help keep your policies clear and easy to follow.

1. Rules and regulations

This section should outline your company’s expectations for appropriate employee conduct on social media. For example, many policies ask employees not to swear or state controversial opinions when posting about the company.

This section might include instructions on:

Brand guidelines: How to talk about your company and products Etiquette and engagement: Outline how — and if — you want employees to respond to mentions of your brand (positive and negative) Confidentiality: Defines what company information should not be shared on social media Consequences: Instructs employees and managers on the consequences of abuse of social media Social media for personal use: Lays out how and when employees should use social media, and what to avoid 2. Roles and responsibilities

After the 2017 Boston Marathon, Adidas stole the spotlight in the worst possible way. An employee sent out an email saying “Congratulations, you survived the Boston Marathon.” Theevent that had been the target of a horrific terrorist attack just four years prior.

You can bet within minutes of that email, meetings were called to discuss how to respond to the inevitable social media backlash. Having a plan in place ahead of time, and knowing who handles what, is key to responding effectively in a crisis.

In this section, define who is responsible for specific social media governance tasks. Start by creating a table broken into two columns. The first column should define a specific social media responsibility, such as brand guidelines. The person responsible for governing that responsibility should appear in the second column.

Social media roles and responsibilities to assign might include:

Message approval Crisis response Customer service Social engagement Security and legal concerns Staff training Social media monitoring 3. Potential legal risks

There are a lot of legal risks involved with social media.And working fast across large teams can amplify those risks.

Your social media policy should provide clear guidelines for handling any areas of potential concern. Those legal risks vary from country to country, so do your research and get legal counsel.

Some topics that this section should cover are:

Crediting sources: Where did this come from? Your policy should specify how your team will credit original sources if they are reposting or borrowing content from an external source (an image, for example). Privacy and disclosure procedures: Define what is considered confidential and non-sharable, such as plans for a rebranding announcement or customer information. Employee disclaimers: Tell employees to include a disclaimer when publicly commenting on content related to your business that identifies them as an employee. For example, “views expressed are mine and don’t necessarily reflect those of my employer.” You may also suggest employees add such a disclaimer to any publicly accessible bio, such as Twitter or LinkedIn. NOTE: It is also important to identify what such a disclaimer does and does not mean. For example, the City of Edmonton’s social media guidelines have the following to say about disclaimers: “As an employee, you are still perceived by members of the public as a representative of the City, even if you include a statement that your opinions are your own.”
 
4. Security risks

Social media can be a potent tool for scammers and criminals. From phishing scams to ransomware attacks, social media security risks are all too common. Companies must be hyper-vigilant when it comes to protecting their online presence.

Social media policies can help safeguard against such risks by making employees aware of the threats, how to avoid them, and what to do should an attack occur.

Your policy should provide guidelines on how to:

Create secure passwords and set up two-factor authentication Keep software and devices updated Avoid phishing attacks, spam, scams, and other malicious threats How to identify an attack How to respond in the event of a security breach or attack 5. Accountability

When public mistakes happen, the first line of defense for the affected company is to point the finger at the employee who went rogue. After all every employee is responsible for what they publish online. But to avoid embarrassment in the first place, remind your people to exercise caution and common sense. Whether they’re posting on behalf of the company or on their personal channels, it’ll be the company’s reputation that suffers.

How to implement a social media policy

Seek input. This policy should be crafted with employee participation. This will help ensure all your bases are covered and that everyone buys into the program. It should be an ongoing process.

Focus on the big picture. Social media changes all the time, including which networks are the most popular and how they’re being used. Don’t get too caught up on providing specifics for each channel. Instead, provide guidelines that are as universal as possible.

Don’t discourage use. The language and content of your policy should be designed to encourage employees to be active on social and champion your brand. They’ll be on there anyway. Two thirds of Canadians and Americans are on at least one social network. Avoid creating a document of DON’Ts. Instead, give your employees the tools they need to keep out of trouble and harness the potential of social media.

Social media policy examples

Here are some social media policies from both the private and public sectors that you can use to inform your own.

Social media policy examples for the health-care industry Mayo Clinic: This one gets a gold star for concision. It touches on disclosures and employee disclaimers in under 500 words. That’s about the length of a normal news article. It also provides links to policies on computer usage, patient confidentiality, and mutual respect. Roche: This four-page policy makes good use of section headings, bullet points and tables to organize its ideas. It does a good job of starting with general principles, then focusing on company-specific activities. The Ohio State University Medical Center: This is a great example of how to separate your organizational and personal use sections. The policy starts with a clear definition of both and explains the procedures and policies that apply to each segment.
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Funders must encourage scientists to share

To realize the full potential of large data sets, researchers must agree on better ways to pass data around, says Martin Bobrow.

 

How can we make best use of the vast amounts of data on genomics, epidemiology and population-level health being collected by researchers? Maximizing the benefits depends on how well we as a scientific community share information. (...) - Nature, by Martin Bobrow, 10/06/2015


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More funding agency should change their policy to let/push the researchers to share information and their publications in repositories or #openaccess #openscience #openresearch

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Most scientific research is publicly funded, and yet we have to pay to access it. This absurd situation should not be allowed to continue. (...) - Magazine Ouishare, by Sara Rodriguez Marin, 25 February 2015


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How Scientists Engage the Public | Information literacy | Scoop.it

Most scientists (87%) believe it is important to participate in public policy debates. Almost half use social media to discuss or follow science, and nearly a quarter blog about science and research. (...) - PewResearchCenter, February 15, 2015


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Tree of Science's curator insight, October 21, 2015 1:45 PM

Interesting survey made by the +Pew Research Center about how american researchers interact with citizen. Half of these scientists talk with journalists and half use social media for communicate with their audience #openscience #scicomm 

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Sharing data: Why it should be done

Sharing data: Why it should be done | Information literacy | Scoop.it
As data continues to be produced at staggering rates, scientists need to become more aware of the benefits of data sharing, says Eleni Liapi. (....) - Naturejobs Blog, by Julie Gould, Guest Eleni Liapi, 05 October 2015
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Information Literacy Weblog: ACRL releases #acrlilrevisions revised ...

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Information Literacy Weblog: Learning Analytics for the Social Media ...

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The Information Literacy User's Guide: An Open, Online Textbook

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State University of New York - Open SUNY Texbooks


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ACRL Releases Revised Draft of Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education | LJ INFOdocket

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Information Literacy Weblog: Developing Digital Literacies for a Digital World: presentations

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CMC11 Session4: Transliteracy and Metaliteracy

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SearchReSearch: What does it mean to be literate?

SearchReSearch: What does it mean to be literate? | Information literacy | Scoop.it

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3 Ways to Use Social Media to Improve Your Health Care Marketing

Within the next three to five years, the use of social media to connect with individuals is expected to increase by 256%.

For the health care industry in particular, social media can help engage patients, providers and the public with relevant and timely information, as well as communicate the value and credibility of a health system.

Why is this tactic becoming a critical component of health care marketing strategy?

A recent study found 57% of consumers’ decisions to receive treatment at a health care facility are strongly influenced by that provider’s social media connections, showing that patients trust health organizations with a social presence.

According to another report, 60% of doctors say social media improves the quality of care delivered to patients, which means that doctors also value the transparency and open communication that social media can provide.

With the opportunity to increase patient referrals and improve the quality of care, it’s no surprise that many health systems are jumping on the social media bandwagon.

Let’s take a look at a few ways using social media in health care can improve overall marketing efforts:

Engage With Patients in Real Time

One of the benefit of social media marketing in health care is enabling deeper and more meaningful discussions that address patient questions, concerns and interests in real time.

The question is, how can health care marketers effectively use social media to communicate and engage with existing patients?

Health systems can facilitate patient empowerment by enabling and engaging in patient forums and research networks online. For example, PatientsLikeMeallows patients to manage their own health conditions by discussing treatments with patients who have similar conditions. Hospitals and other health networks can develop their own platforms that allow patients to share their experiences and receive support from similar individuals.

Along with forums, health systems can use social networking pages to encourage patient discussions. For example, Children’s Mercy uses their Facebook page to showcase their reputation as a renowned care center.

“Locally, Children’s Mercy wants parents to know their kids are in good hands. Social is a good way to share news and feature CMH doctors and patients,” says PR director Jake Jacobson.

 

This video is a part of Children’s Mercy’s “Big Slick KC” promotion for their annual fundraiser. Posts like these raise awareness for the health system’s Cancer Center, share patient stories and urge people to donate.

According to the Journal of Health Management, “When patients tell their stories, their friends see that, and the likelihood of spreading the message increases many-fold.”

To successfully engage patients on social media forums or networking sites, organizations must regularly monitor these platforms to respond to patients in a timely manner, as well as ensure fresh, engaging content is added often to keep patients interested.

Facilitate Physician Collaboration

Health care marketers can also use social media channels to encourage physician alignment and collaboration. Texas Health, a network of 25 hospitals that employs 5,500 physicians, created an enterprise social networkto help physicians communicate and work with one another to overcome challenges posed by the work environment, such as electronic health record requirements.

As a result of this networking initiative, the health system saw improved physician collaboration, a shorter learning period and greater acceptance of social media tools.

Social media is an easy way for physicians to find and connect with other health professionals, even those outside of their own health system or hospital. Physicians can also share their knowledge or research to benefit other providers.

Overall, these practices improve physicians’ knowledge and willingness to work as a team. The more informed and educated a health system’s physicians are, the happier patients will be with their experience and the quality of care provided.

Ultimately, health care marketers should strive to provide patients with better experiences to foster loyalty, retention and positive word-of-mouth referrals. Improving physician engagement and alignment is one way to do so.

Support Population and Preventative Health Initiatives

Since many social media sites are public communication platforms that can reach a wide breadth of individuals, health care organizations can use this marketing tactic to support broader population health and preventative health initiatives.

One way to do this is to communicate educational information about health events and crises. Lee Aase of Mayo Clinic and Shannon Dosemagen of Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, say “organizations can use social media to distribute time-sensitive health information, promote information sharing to encourage behavioral changes (including corrective changes during potential health crises), be a platform for conversation between agencies and constituents (rather than just as an information provider) and allow the public to provide useful information and feedback.”

 

Health care organizations can also use social media as a platform to distribute information about common health conditions, diseases and other public health issues as a preventative measure.

As John Weston, CMO of Mayo Clinic notes, “We leverage the rich content we have to provide consumers with information about diseases and conditions, even when it is likely they may never become a patient. We view this as part of our moral responsibility — to share our knowledge and expertise to benefit others.”

Though social media provides the opportunity for health care organizations to reach large consumer and patient populations, marketers need to be mindful of maintaining HIPAA compliance and other privacy regulations on these public platforms.

Providers can maintain the trust of patient-provider relationships by staying far away from patient information and establishing a professional presence. Keeping this in mind, social media in health care has the potential to improve patient engagement, drive physician alignment, and foster a healthier society overall.

How does your healthcare organization take advantage of social media?


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We have already paid for science: we should enjoy it for free

We have already paid for science: we should enjoy it for free | Information literacy | Scoop.it

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Perceptions of open access publishing are changing for the better, a survey by Nature Publishing Group and Palgrave Macmillan finds

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A survey of 22,000 academic researchers by Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and Palgrave Macmillan has found that a decreasing number of authors are concerned about perceptions of the quality of open access publications. (...) - Nature, 13 August 2015


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Funders must encourage scientists to share

To realize the full potential of large data sets, researchers must agree on better ways to pass data around, says Martin Bobrow.

 

How can we make best use of the vast amounts of data on genomics, epidemiology and population-level health being collected by researchers? Maximizing the benefits depends on how well we as a scientific community share information. (...) - Nature, by Martin Bobrow, 10/06/2015


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Tree of Science's curator insight, October 29, 2015 2:25 PM

More funding agency should change their policy to let/push the researchers to share information and their publications in repositories or #openaccess #openscience #openresearch

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An information literacy infographic 

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Free tools for creating Infographics for school library professionals >> instruction - engagement - resources

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Great graphic to place for continuing support and review!!

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Information Literacy Weblog: CAIS proceedings: primary school infolit; whither information behaviour; Situated practice

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Karen Bonanno's curator insight, April 14, 2013 4:31 PM

Metaliteracy explored in relation to information literacy and transliteracy.