By Alyssa Gregory

How to Create a Personal Social Media Policy

By Alyssa Gregory

As more and more companies discover the benefits of an active and engaged social media presence, there is a growing focus on company-wide social media policies. This is a much-needed element of social media campaigns, particularly for companies with employees, a wide reach, and multiple people responsible for managing the company’s online presence.

But what about the freelancer or one-person shop?  While you may be solely responsible for your entire professional social media engagement, it still may be a good idea to create a policy so you have clarity on what you hope to accomplish, what you want to avoid, and how you will interact, react and communicate.

Your policy should be in writing, even if it’s for your eyes only, and can be a great add-on to your social media marketing plan. Here are some of the areas you’ll want to consider incorporating into your social media policy.

Outline the Goals

Why are you active in social media? What do you hope to accomplish? You probably already have a general idea of your purpose, even if you haven’t thought it through specifically. But making your goals intentional and clear can help you create a policy that supports your purpose.

Consider Your Audience (and non-audience)

You have a specific target audience who you think would be most interested in what you’re posting online, and you should tailor your activity and your policies about your activity to appeal to that audience. But we all know that just about everything online is accessible to just about anyone who wants to access it, especially when it comes to social media. So while you should focus on your target audience, don’t forget about the masses and make sure your personal policy takes that into consideration.

Set Boundaries

Just as many companies have ground rules about how their personnel will interact on social media sites, so should you. Consider your goals, and then develop boundaries that explicitly outline what you consider fair game and what’s not. For example, you may decide that mentioning your kids is OK, but sharing photos or other specific information about your kids isn’t.

Plan for Productivity

If you’re anything like me, you may have an instance or two in your social media history that you lost track of time. Obviously, not a huge deal, unless you find that you’re losing work time and having difficulty maximizing your social media activity in the time intervals you have available. If this is the case for you, your intentions about when you will participate in social media may be a good addition to your policy.

Create an Online Reputation Management Plan

Your social media marketing plan should outline how you intend to track your online reputation; your social media policy should outline how you will respond to criticisms, conflicts and comments. This is one area that is likely to change over time, and you may not know how you want to structure your responses until you are in a specific situation, but it’s good to have on your radar.

Do you have a personal structured policy for your social media involvement, guidelines outlined in your head, or do you not worry about it?

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  • Where was this post a week ago!? very good post Alyssa. I had not thought about putting into such a policy before. But while reading the post I decided to just open word and write it as I went. My policy is only one page, has a few sentences and dot points and that’s about it. Before reading this I would just do anything, a lot of the time just being out of office hours me – which is extremely sarcastic and looking at life as fun, a game, not serious. But when I’m “in the office”, 180, watch out – totally different person. I like things to be perfect, serious and very professional at all times. So from now on I will treat social media with the same rules as I apply to the office. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve been sitting at my “hobby” desk and not the “work” desk. So, perhaps environment could be a good thing to have on the list as well? Where to engage in social media? Do you think it is a good idea to have two different profiles for most things?
    Thanks again for the post, very helpful.

    • Great questions, and I think a lot of those details can fit into a social media policy. It’s really just a tool to help you manage your activity so it supports what you want to achieve. Do you have a social media marketing plan? There is certainly some overlap but you can hit on more of the where and why in your marketing plan.

      RE: different profiles — I actually don’t have multiple profiles on each site. For me, one unified profile in each network works — I merge it all together (business owner, writer, mom, etc.) to make me (business and personal) the brand. But some people prefer to keep it all separate, and that works, too. It just depends how you want to use the sites.

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