The Process of Creating a Social Media Policy
As I wrote in my last Article, irrespective of the type whether it’s a ‘Floating’ or ‘Fixed’ every social media policy should be propelled through a filtered process of certain steps to ensure the best yield.
Just like any other policy, the end goal of a social media policy for an organization is simply to decipher the common guidelines to save a bigger (interested/involved) mass from any diabolical, unethical, illegal representation by a smaller mass involved within.
Please note that the article is being directed towards the formation of an internal social media policy for an organization.
Formation/creation of a social media policy for any organization is never a process in parts; rather it’s a flow – a flow of overlapping stages.
- Analyzing the Need: Before brewing the perfect cup of policy, analyzing the exact need and position of the policy holder is something of immense requirement. Without concerning the ‘WHY’ any move towards ‘HOW’ really gets vague. If your confidentiality agreement is covering most of the parts concerned on social media, creating a separate policy for the same is not required. The reason that most organizations opt for a totally separate social media policy is because of the fact that they are totally new into the social media scene with their decade old policies and confidentiality agreements for/with employees and related parties. So, on an outset, analyze whether you need a separate social media policy or not! If somehow the need theory indicates the preparation and implementation of a separate policy, define the norms on the basis of the requirements and consequences. While analyzing, consider a probable future too. It will help in preparing a sustainable policy for the long run.
- Defining the Base: Defining the base for a social media policy starts with the step of need assessment. The difference in-between is just directional. Whereas need assessment tells you whether you need one or not, defining the base elaborates the applicability points for such a policy. The lines of interpretation and the allotment of responsibilities are the two main points to be concerned while setting up such a base. These two factors should be touched in such a manner that they fit best to the hierarchical adjustments of an organization. Even the monitoring system also should be confined to these adjustments. If there is a chance for a department/branch to mishandle or confuse certain uses/platforms, it’s better to limit or even restrict them from those uses/platforms. But don’t discriminate; remember that a good policy is the one which discriminates none or least.
- Selecting the (proper) medium and the way: Selecting the medium again is not totally segregated from the previous stage in the process of creating a social media policy. Defining the base somehow indicates that with the wards you should allot their appropriate weapons too. The platforms and the allowed way of interaction should be desexed to the greater benefit of the organization concerned. Certain topics like internal policies, IPR issues, and confidential information etc. which can easily defame/smirch the company position should be barred. While creating a social media policy most of the organizations overlook the fact that such a policy should near accurately touch both the professional and the personal side of media consumption & production by an employee. So, at-least, the policy should be of the mark that it touches both parts in the interest of the organization in a responsible manner.
- Drafting and the Review: Creating a blueprint is the next stage towards a better social media policy in the process. Once the base, the mediums and the paths are defined, a first-hand blueprint is what develops. A proper review of the blueprint and the final approval towards a sustainable model concerning all the departments and parties involved is the main footing towards the drafting of the best social media policy for an organization.
- The Distribution: In the process of adopting a social media policy, distribution plays the upper hand in any organization. It is how you let your concerned mass know about the policy. Depending upon the nature and the size of an organization, there are two types of distribution – viz. Homogenous and Heterogeneous. The first type deals mostly with the policies where all guidelines are same across all levels of an organizational hierarchy. The second one, on the other hand, deals with the policies customized as per the levels of hierarchy in an organization. Finally, the distribution has to do with the medium through which it is being conveyed to the concerned masses. The medium so pertained may vary from mobile platforms or written formats to even company blogs. For example – Mayo Clinic practices a proper page to convey their internal social media policy at http://sharing.mayoclinic.org/guidelines/for-mayo-clinic-employees/.
The Supplements: The process of creating a social media policy is summarized in broader terms in this article. Yet, there are few points to be consulted minutely like the general laws, privacy issues, IPR issues etc. without which a social media policy would result in chaos only.
Depending upon the type of the policy, each policy demands separate level of attention and scrutiny. For example – a fixed policy always demands a higher level of scrutiny before being formally introduced.
The next big point to be mentioned here is the point of monitoring. A monitoring process pertaining to a social media policy should be transparent and it must respect the privacy concerns attached.
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