Creating a Social Media Policy

Chris Hanslik

December 28, 2009

In today’s world of social media, every company with more than two employees should develop a social media policy. These policies serve several purposes, including, but not limited to: (1) educating your workforce on the various types of social media outlets; (2) determining how social media can be used to further your company’s business interests; and (3) establishing guidelines for using social media consistent with your company’s core values and/or code of conduct.

With this in mind, the best way to start is by not trying to recreate the wheel — several large institutions have social media policies in place that provide a good template for any company to draw from. You can find some of these policies at

Armed with this information, you should form a small committee from different constituent groups within your company to evaluate the various policies. Establish a system to determine what portions of each policy will work for your company given the industry you serve as well as how your company operates. Part of the process should include interviewing your employees to determine which social media outlets they regularly use and how they think using social media can help or hurt the company’s ability to accomplish its goals.

Obviously, before any policy is finalized you should make sure that the legal implications are addressed. For example, you want to make sure your employees avoid violating any advertising laws your company may be bound by, guard against employees making defamatory statements or infringing upon intellectual property rights of others, and address privacy concerns. The one legal issue all policies should cover is consequences for violating the policy. This will become an issue if an employee should be terminated because of their conduct on a social media outlet.

Finally, an important aspect of any policy is regularly evaluating whether it is still appropriate for your business. As fast as social media is evolving you will need to make sure your social media policy keeps up with the technology.