What is a social media policy and who needs one?
A social media policy describes how your staff and volunteers should behave online and protects your organisation's brand and reputation. 
Words by Samantha Morris

As social media usage has grown around the world, so too has the need for even the most grassroots community groups to document policies and procedures around digital media. 

The line between work and personal social media use is not clear cut. It is fuzzy. Our staff and volunteers use social media all the time to interact with friends and family and their wider social and professional network. 

A policy that unpacks these issues is important for any organisation – irrespective of size – that is building an online profile using digital media. 

Get people involved. if you have staff and volunteers already active in this space, recruit them to help write the policy. They are, after all, the ones who’ll be using it day-in, day-out.

What is a social media policy?

A social media policy provides guidelines for the people in your organisation who use digital media. That includes people whose job it is to manage your group’s social media presence but also other team members who are participating in online forums where your brand may be at risk. 

A social media policy describes how your staff or volunteers should interact and behave online and protects your brand and your reputation. 

What does a good social media policy look like? 

  • Your policy doesn’t have to be long. If Coca Cola can lay out its social media policy in just three pages, so can you. 
  • It should start with the reason why the organisation needs a social media policy.
  • It should be updated regularly as the digital space changes and evolves. 
  • It should clearly outline who is responsible for the organisation’s social media and what role(s) other people play
  • It should name one person or position that is ultimately responsible for the organisation’s social media (the buck stops here).
  • It should document what is appropriate content to be posted across the organisation’s social media channels. It should also include details about what is inappropriate. 
  • It should document what is considered appropriate online behaviour.
  • It should document what to do if there is online conflict.
  • It should support staff and volunteers to make good decisions when it comes to posting content and interacting with members of the public online – whether they are doing this while officially representing your organisation or through private channels. 
  • It should spell out the process to be used if a mistake is made by one of your team on social media
  • It should document who owns the organisation’s social media accounts (irrespective of who created them) and how the organisation keeps track of those with administrative rights.
  • And finally, the language used in your social media policy should be clear and easy to understand. 

Check out our social media policy template here.