Make Social Media Your Friend, Not Your Drunken Tweet

Many companies have jumped on the social media bandwagon as a tool of influence and engagement with customers, but how many of them are really considering their social media policy? If a business begins with a business plan, shouldn’t there be a similar plan for their social media?

The Social Media Club of St Louis in their March meeting discussed just this. The conclusion? A social media policy is not “one size fits all.” Depending on the organization’s type, needs, and goals, a different policy must be crafted. Many companies using Facebook and Twitter have set down no formal rules on how their public social media image should look, but grooming and managing your social media policy can make the difference between a sloppy ragtag Twitter and one your fans actually go to for information.

In February, the American Red Cross tweeted, “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.” While this turned out to be very good (and humorous) in terms of publicity for the American Red Cross, Dogfish Head beer, and the trend #gettngslizzerd, this could have ended very poorly. Chances are it was a (drunken) accident, but one that could have potentially been avoided with a defined social media policy.

As Brian Solis, a principal at advisory firm Altimeter Group, said, your social media policy cannot be to “use common sense” because you cannot assume that common sense is common. With potentially multiple individuals tweeting or posting status updates under the company name, a solid policy can prevent those #gettngslizzerd blunders.

Crafting a Social Media Policy

Brian Solis made a list of the 25 best practices for creating a social media policy, and we’ve picked a few of our favorites to consider before sending out your next status update.

  • Practice self restraint. It’s good that you’re comfortable sharing every aspect of your life with Twitter, but that may not be necessary.
  • Define a voice and persona. Give your company some characteristics.
  • The internet never dies. Be careful with what you say if you don’t want it used against you.
  • Keep things conversational. It’s still important to use proper grammar and punctuation, but there’s no need to be stiff.

You can read the rest of Solis’ rules in his post, “The Rules of Social Media Engagement.” What rules have you set down for your social media policy?