Hi Roland, We need to establish a “Social Media Policy” for employees and another for parents. Might you have any information on creating these policies or know where I might start? I’ve done a few Google searches.

Jennifer, New Jersey

Hi Jennifer,

It’s a great question. In today’s reality, every organization and business should define a “Social Media Policy”. It’s more important than ever — case in point, the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election cycle demonstrated how polarizing, passionate and intollerant people may suddenly behave. It’s important for the typical organization/business to remain neutral in public communications. Personal opinions should be kept separate.

I don’t have a boilerplate for you. But there are many you can find online. A Social Media Policy should lay out clearly acceptable and appropriate use practices, consent, roles and responsibilities, remedies and discipline.

A quick Google search reveals so many examples:
“social media policy for teachers”
“social media policy for schools”
One of the first listings is the NYC Dept of Ed guidelines, which looks like a very good place to start.

I recommend you pick one and customize it to your comfort level. Then anyone representing the school who is permitted to publish on behalf of the school should be asked to read and sign.

I hope this is helpful.

Social Media is supposed to be educational, informative, and fun. What happened?

Nowadays, it can sometimes feel depressing and disturbing. Obviously we should always strive for respect and civility. As much as we might hope for the best, it seems that just telling employees to “use common sense” may not be enough. You need to:

  • Protect your brand from harm.
  • Set clear expectations.

What should you include in your Social Media Usage Policy?

Set a Social Media Usage Policy so your employees know what you expect from them. Your company Social Media Policy should clearly define:

  • The business/organization Social Media account(s) are to be used exclusively for work-related communications. It should not be used for personal messages and opinions.
  • Define what is included in your definition/interpretation of Social Media. Content may include text, images, video, and audio. Platforms may include:
    • Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
    • Facebook Live, SnapChat, YouTube, Periscope, etc.
  • Define what the consistent brand message should be.
  • Clarify what are acceptable vs unacceptable posts; and how to respond to negative replies or attacks. Create a process to elevate to a more senior employee when there is doubt as to how to handle a situation.
  • The Social Media account(s) may not be used for sending hateful, disparaging, pornographic or other inappropriate messages.
  • Define process for remedies when something goes wrong.
  • Define what is considered to be confidential information, trade secrets, proprietary information, customer/patient/student information, etc.
    HIPPA and COPPA guidelines normally practiced should also apply to electronic communications to prospects, customers and business partners.
  • Login credentials may not be shared with anyone.
  • Management has the right to review all related Social Media accounts at any time.
  • Define punishment or disciplinary actions that may be taken for violating the Social Media Usage Policy.

Incorporate your Social Media Guidelines into your standard Employee Handbook.

Social Media Policy for your Customers/Patients/Students…

As you define a policy for employees and representatives, you should define the official policy for your customers/patients/students.

As part of your agreements, you may already include disclaimers about using a likeness for marketing. You should revisit those notices, or release forms and update them accordingly to include Social Media.

While you’re at it, check your email usage policy and update that accordingly.