Ten Social Media Governance and Law Tips for Social Business

Ten Social Media Governance and Law Tips for Social Business post thumbnail image

Glen Gilmore, a marketing strategist and attorney, explained that “Social Media Governance” is the process of how a company integrates social media into its corporate culture. It is the transformation of “social media” into “social business”. Gilmore, ever the lawyer, added his disclaimer: “Nothing here should be considered legal advise as that would require consultation with an attorney in your jurisdiction.” These ten tips should be used by companies to create best practices for new media marketing.

1. Establish a Governance team.

2012 should be the year that business takes serious steps to integrate social business into their corporate culture and social media governance.

Your governance team should represent a cross-section of your company and should be a centre of excellence for your business. Silos do not work.

A governance team should include diverse talent from marketing, customer service and legal to learn, create best practices and set benchmarks for excellence. This will humanize your brand and drive business results.

2. Establish/Update A Social Media Policy.

You are inviting disaster if your company doesn’t have a policy on social networking.

Your organization may have been an early adopter or early adopter for social media. It is time to review your policy. The National Labor Relations Board issued over 100 decisions in the last year on the subject of employee social media use. Many of these Board decisions were prompted by social networking policies too broad that were deemed to have a chilling effect on employee protected speed.

The law finally recognizes the consequences of the massive amount of communication, marketing, and conversation that takes place on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn blogs, vlogs etc. These clarifications and changes should be reflected in your policy and guidelines.

There are many online models of policies. You should be aware that many policies found online could need to be updated or simply wrong. It is important to invest in your policy. The type of organization and regulatory guidelines that you follow will determine the best policy for you.

3. Make a playbook

Your social media policy does not establish the rules and limits for online social engagement. Instead, your playbook should serve as a “how to” guide for your employees. It should include examples of what to do on social networks. You should include social network profile templates that offer suggestions for how to project a consistent and professional brand image.

4. Create a Social Media Communications Crisis Management Plan.

Your business will experience a crisis at some point. You can prepare for the worst before it happens. You should create a response chart that lists who in your organization is responsible for what and how they will be contacted. Most crises occur after 5:00 p.m. on weekends. Round-tables can be used to identify the most likely events to cause a crisis in your organization’s communications. Then, you can do training exercises to show how your policies and charts would work.

If you work for a large organization, chances are you already have crisis communication plans. These plans should include social media.

It is important to understand the basics of what to do if an employee sends a mistweet via a corporate account’s Twitter. These are two scenarios to consider: what to do if you social network account is hijacked or stolen by spammers.

This topic should be covered in both your playbook and your handbook.

5. Spend some time to learn the FTC’s Social Media Disclosure Guidelines.

The Federal Trade Commission, which is “the nation’s consumer safety agency,” updated its endorsement guidelines in 2009 to include social media. It addressed the disclosure requirements for sponsored bloggers as well as those who sponsor them. They are rarely read by marketers. Make sure they are on your reading list. (When the FTC’s social-media guidelines were first published in 2009, I wrote about them. They haven’t changed since then. FTC Rules Update: Bloggers and Businesses Beware

Simply put, the FTC does not require disclosure “tabs”, buttons, links, or static profile disclosures. This is contrary to the vast amount of written material on the subject. (Disclosures must be made within the context of the conversation.

6. Offer Social Media Training to Your Employees

Regardless of any company policy, most employees use social media throughout the day. It’s okay to let it go. Instead, train your employees so that their social media time is not a waste of time but an asset for your company.

7. Make a decision tree.

A decision tree is often given to call center employees to enable them to quickly answer many questions. Employees should be provided with a social media decision trees to help them understand how to respond to brands on social media. Even the U.S. Air Force created a media decision tree, which Pfizer used later to create its own. Social media governance should simplify employee participation in social networking, but still allow employees to use their good judgment to personalize the conversation. Brand consistency can also be achieved through a decision tree.

8. Streamlined Access to Compliance and Legal.

Social media engagement is about real-time conversation. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a brand must respond immediately to every tweet or post, but it does mean that you should try to answer any questions as quickly as possible. You can also let your community know that you are investigating a complaint or question, but the time-consuming procedures that need to be followed in order to provide a reply must be efficient. A new approach to getting answers from legal or compliance requires that you are more sensitive to the time required to respond to comments and inquiries on social networks. This is what you need to do.

9. Get regular updates on best practices.

Your best practices and the sharing of information about them should evolve as social networking grows. Your updates should include sharing and being attentive to the latest guidance from regulatory agencies. This task is best left to your governance team, with legal input.

10. Monitoring, Auditing and Auditing Your Social Networking Activities

Your company’s social media activities must be evaluated for excellence, regardless of the quality of your policies and training. It doesn’t necessarily mean every tweet must be a masterpiece. However, it does require that your company’s online social media engagement is consistent with the brand, contributing to trust, transparency, and brand advocates.

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