Saturday, January 29, 2011

Building Strong Social Media Guidelines

It is no secret that the growing causes of most crisis PR moments in the past decade were a result of poor social media comprehension. Preventing these disasters proactively should be a major part of any integrated communication and reputation management strategy. That is why it is incredibly important for organizations and companies to develop and implement strong social media policies and guidelines to help safeguard their brand and employees.

It is also important to understand that having social media guidelines is not just critical in regard to reputation management and clarifying gray legal areas. There are many different considerations that should go into guidelines. To begin with, they should be a means of encouragement for employees to help promote and strengthen brands.

Right now I find myself tasked with developing more comprehensive social media guidelines for my own organization. The difference between the Society of Professional Journalists and most entities is that the non-profit organizational structure within SPJ means that the majority of our social media participants are volunteers rather than employees. Because of this, special care is being taken into consideration for writing the content of these guidelines. I'm making a point to seek as much advice as possible to create the best language to help our volunteers adapt to and implement these needed procedures.

When creating your own social media guidelines, it is best to research a wide selection of different examples to help you understand what best reflects your own organizational needs. Working on this project for the past few weeks has taught me a lot about different types of policies and I want to share some of the online resources that were a huge benefited for me throughout the process.
Social Media Governance Database - Includes more than 100 different social media policies for a wide spectrum of different companies, organizations and other entities.

How to Deal With Haters and Potty Mouths on Your Newsroom’s Facebook Page - From Journalistics, I loved this article not only for its insightful quality of content focused on Facebook but also because of its light-hearted nature.

10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy - From Mashable, this handy list focuses on what it refers to as the most important aspect of writing guidelines, to better engage target audiences.

On a final note of consideration, a strong policy should make a point to reflect the transformative nature of social media. From Facebook to Twitter, who knows how the next form of communications vehicle will take shape. Even once titans such as Myspace can begin to fall over time as the way we use the Internet continuously evolves.
It is a changing new world online and a strong, durable set of guidelines are just the foundation blocks to helping your brand expand and maintain a positive reputation.

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