“It’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them,” said writer T.S. Eliot. A century later, his quote is being used during a social media webinar—three words Eliot couldn’t even dream of.
Last Wednesday, October 24th, WebbMason held its third social media webinar, How to Develop a Social Media Policy and Why. Mandi Frishman and Josh Jordan led the social media policy discussion. Frishman and Jordan urged companies to recognize the importance of a policy—a few simple pages will not only protect employees, but will also protect the brand.
With social media constantly updating and changing, Frishman and Jordan encouraged companies to frequently update the policy as well. Creating a clear and solid social media policy is the first step, but having a communal understanding by all employees is the next.
This June, Barrett Tryon, a multimedia journalist at the Colorado Springs Gazette, was put on administrative leave without pay for posting this link and quote on his personal Facebook account from the Los Angeles Times. This report was about the Gazette’s parent company, Freedom Communications, being acquired by a company in Boston. Apparently, Tryon was in violation of Freedom’s social media policy and was confronted by his boss only about an hour after posting. Carmen Boles, his boss, claimed that an editor would know nothing about the intentions of a new company, and the information did not meet their standards of factual information. Tryon fought back, saying he was simply relaying news on his personal account, and was instantly put on administrative leave. After going to the press and getting national recognition, Freedom Communications, who should maybe consider changing their name, offered Tryon his job back. He declined. In an interview with Indy, Tryon said, “I hope that the takeaway is that people realize that, if you do have a social-media policy in place, it’s important that you know what it is, and how it can be interpreted or misinterpreted.”
Tryon says it best himself—a solid and clear social media policy is crucial for every company. So, how does a company efficiently develop a policy? Frishman and Jordan advise companies to align resources and build consensuses. Make sure to cover all sides and analyze where your company needs the most help. Frishman and Jordan note that a social media policy not only creates a chance to provide direction, but also elevates the expenses of a possible lawsuit.
Social media should be a tool that enhances, not harms, your company. The Internet is forever, and utilizing a policy can produce and preserve a positive social media identity—for now, and the future. While our generation pulls quotes from literature, like T.S. Eliot’s, the next generations will be quoting social media sites.
The fourth and final WebbMason webinar for this series, Social Media: Engagement and Measurement, will be on November 28th.
WebbMason has services that can help create or revamp your company’s social media policy and identity. WebbMason’s Social Media Services include social media strategy and policy development, content creation, and social media interaction management through blogs, major social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube.