Whether you’re writing your social media policy from the beginning, or developing it organically in reaction to situations as they arise - here are 8 tips you should consider, as they could help you to avoid any unnecessary problems:

  1. Introduce the purpose of social media
    All policies need to address what’s in it for the reader or user. Ask yourself what the reader should take away after reading the policy and keep in mind that’s all about leveraging the positive. This needs to be evident in the policy.
  2. Be responsible for what you write
    Your organization and its representatives need to take responsibility for what they write, and exercise good judgment and common sense. “Dooced” for instance is an Internet expression that means to “lose the job” because of things the person says on a website or blog. No one wants that to happen, of course, so using common sense and being responsible is important.
  3. Be authentic
    Don’t hide behind anonymity or pseudonyms. Include your name and, when appropriate, your company name and your title. This is simply because consumers prefer to buy from people they know and trust, so let people know who you are.
  4. Consider your audience
    When you’re out in the blogosphere or other social media channels, remember that your readers include current clients, potential clients, as well as current/past/future employees. Consider that before you publish and make sure you aren’t alienating any of those groups.
  5. Exercise good judgment
    Stay away from comments that can be interpreted as demeaning, inflammatory, or similar. The Internet is full of different opinions, and it is okay to share yours, but you never, want to be branded a racist or narrow-minded or an unstoppable hot-head – so always think twice before you press the ’send‘ button.
  6. Understand the concept of community
    The essence of community is the idea that it exists so that you can support others and they, in turn, can support you. It is vital to know how to balance personal and professional information, and to understand the important role that transparency plays in building a community. Your community shouldn’t be an environment where competition is encouraged or emphasized, but rather a platform where your customers or users feel comfortable sharing, connecting, and receiving help.
  7. Respect copyrights & protect your company’s trade secrets
    This should be a no-brainer, but just in case: always give people proper credit for their work, and make sure you have the right to use something with attribution before you publish.

    The other point is that being transparent doesn’t mean giving out your company’s trade secrets (a special recipe or deal in the making). This seems to be pretty clear, but don’t forget to make employees aware of any obligations they may have to protect confidential or proprietary information. Transparency doesn’t give employees free rein to share anything and everything. Employees should know that if they do this, they risk losing their job and possibly even ending up with a lawsuit if they do so. Therefore, make sure all of this is clearly laid out in your social media policy.
  8. Bring value
    Social media will more likely pay dividends for you if you add value to your followers, readers, fan, and users – but I think I don’t have to explain this here further– you know what I mean.

Source: Mashable – The Social Media Guide, an article by Sharlyn Lauby