Digital: Social Media Policy - What's your policy?

Having clear guidelines in place to outline how employees use social media can protect companies from negative publicity, finds Peter Hay.

Social media may have democratised the web but they have also presented organisations with a new set of reputational risks. These risks are not just from external sources. What a company's employees say online can also have a damaging effect on a brand.

Nestle discovered this in March when it mismanaged criticism over its continued use of palm oil via the brand's official Twitter and Facebook pages.

Some companies, particularly in the financial or healthcare sectors, have responded by limiting or preventing staff from using digital platforms altogether.

But Staniforth MD Rob Brown says these organisations are taking the wrong approach.

Brown, like many other digital and social media professionals, believes that these steps are unnecessary if companies create an effective social media policy for staff.

'Social media policies set the boundaries of what can be said and offer guidelines on how it can be said. As much as they restrict, they also enable and empower, giving freedom within a framework,' agrees Lansons head of digital Simon Sanders.

Having clear guidelines in place to promote good practice and encourage a positive use of social media can help safeguard any business from negative feedback and potential bad publicity.

Here, PRWeek offers expert tips and guidance on what should be contained within a social media policy, and how to keep it tailored, relevant and up to date.

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