Seven Questions to Ask Before Developing a Social Media Policy

Crafting a social media policy is premature unless the policy designers answer these critical questions first.

May 13, 2011
KEYWORDS media , policy , social
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4. How will we inform employees about their responsibilities?

Some organizations confuse policy creation with policy communication. A policy should be well-written and comprehensive, but it’s unlikely that the policy alone will be all that’s needed to instruct employees about their responsibilities for social media.

A well-designed communication plan, backed by a training program, helps to make the policy come to life so employees understand not just what the policy says, but how it affects them.

It also explains what the organization expects to gain from its participation in social media, which should influence employees’ social media interactions.

5. Who will monitor social media employee activities?

Once you’ve set the strategy, established the rules, and explained the rationale for them, who will ensure they’re followed? Who will watch to make sure the organization is getting the desired benefit from social media?

A well-designed training and awareness program will help with this. But managers and the organization’s social media leader also need to pay attention.

Managers need to understand policy and assumptions and how to spot inappropriate activity. But their role is to be more of a guide to support team self-moderation, rather than employ a top-down, monitor-and-control approach.

6. How will we train managers to coach employees on social media use?

Some managers will have no problem supporting their employees as they navigate a myriad of social media sites. Others may have more trouble helping employees figure out the best approach for blogs, microblogs, and social networking.

There must be a plan for how the organization will give managers the skills needed to confront and counsel employees on this sensitive subject.

7. How will we use missteps to refine our policy and training?

As with any new communications medium, some initiatives go exceptionally well, while others run adrift or even sink.

Organizations that approach social media using an organized and planned approach, consistent with the organization's mission, strategy, and values, will be able to review how well these initiatives meet their objectives and use that insight to improve existing efforts or plan future projects better.

For more information, consult Gartner’s “Answer Seven Critical Questions Before You Write Your Social Media Policy.”

Great Advice!

Michael Hudson
May 18, 2011 10:53 am
Excellent insights and valuable advice. The worst thing a credit union can do is to make "creating a social media policy" an item on a checklist. Perhaps even more important than other documents that are created, your social media policy needs to live, breath, and evolve to have any relevance.

Well thought out documents that talk about how things should be done that are not monitored, tracked, revised, and kept current are a waste of time and effort!

It's also important to remember the principles of simplicity...make it as simple as possible, but not simpler (to paraphrase Einstein). That said, my advice to my credit union strategy clients is to start with the bare minimum and grow as you need to when it comes to any policy, including social media.

I encourage CU leaders to print this article and file it for reference when you create your social media policy...these are important and valuable questions!

Well done!

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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