What Goes into a Social Media Policy?

Sometimes employees need to be reminded that deleting a defamatory blog post or Tweet doesn’t delete the damage.

Posted by Lindsay Khan in Code of Conduct, Employment Law, Human Resources on July 27th, 2011

The talk surrounding workplace social media policies is heating up as more companies begin to see its benefits and give social media the green light. Employers understand that social media can’t be ignored, but they want to establish guidelines for employees using it in the workplace. For many, the first step is deciding what to put in their social media policy.

Employees need to understand that they are responsible for what they write. Current customers, potential customers, industry experts and others are paying attention to  tweets, blog posts, Facebook posts, etc, and a misstep can be damaging to the company image. Employees need to be reminded that deleting a defamatory blog post or tweet doesn’t delete the damage.

What Goes into a Social Media Policy?

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A SmartBlog article, “Creating a social-media policy that works, with Alexandra Levit“, by Jesse Stanchak features an interview with Alexandra Levit, a well-known business/workplace author and speaker. In the interview, Levit discusses the key points that should be addressed in every social media policy.

Every organization should have a written social-media policy that includes the following points:

  • Define what you mean by social media — for most, social media means an online forum for two-way communication.
  • Clarify who will own work products created on social-media sites.
  • Spell out the type of information considered proprietary or confidential  — customer details, company financial data, etc. — and say that it should never be shared on these sites.
  • Spell out the type of potentially damaging information that should never be shared on these sites: offensive comments, libelous statements, illegal activity, etc.
  • Determine which employees should be contributing to social-media sites on behalf of the company and what activities these individuals should be engaged in.

A Social Media Policy Done Right

I was introduced to Edmunds.com’s social media policy through Lance Haun’s TLNT article “Four Ways To Do a Social Media Policy That’s Simple, Smart, and Right”. The title of Haun’s article pretty much sums up how I feel about the Edmunds.com social media policy. The policy is simple and easy to read and understand. Although the policy is short and sweet, it includes a ton of information about using social media the right way.

A social media policy shouldn’t be a list of don’ts, and the people at Edmunds.com get that. As Haun explains in his evaluation of the policy:

So many policies get into the minutia of what is and isn’t appropriate that it is hard to take actionable steps to make sure you’re in line with it. Edmunds’ policy is simple and clear enough to encourage employees using social media to use it on the first day of work. That’s self-supporting in that it not only gets more employees on social media, but those who are have a better understanding of where Edmunds stands and can be confident in their use of it.


Marketing Coordinator

Lindsay Khan is the marketing manager for i-Sight Software. With an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree in marketing from the University of Ottawa, she brings business acumen to the subjects she covers for the company blog and website. Lindsay compiles monthly newsletters, writes and promotes downloadable guides and press releases, promotes webinars and manages our online communities.

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