A social media policy is a strategic document for any organization. So it is important to get input from key stakeholders in developing the policy. Fleet (2009) suggests involving Senior Management, Marketing/PR, IT, Human Resources, and the Legal branch. Whilst his guidelines are aimed at the corporate world, libraries and information services could adapt these to include Library Management, IT, HR, Marketing/PR, teaching staff and relevant library staff and the legal branch.
Five key points for inclusion in a social media policy could be:
- State the purpose of the policy and define what is social media means to the organization. Address the different types of applications such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other emerging technologies (Kroski, 2009). The policy should be framed on things that internal staff or students can do rather than what they cannot do using social media. Establish guidelines to manage risks and protect internal employees and external clients. Consider who your audience will be so all groups are examined when writing the policy. Keep the policy short and focused so users will be able to access it easily.
- All contributors should take responsibility for what they write, exercise common sense and sound judgement (Lauby, 2009) and be guided by the code of conduct. Whatever material is up on social media needs to be age appropriate, ethically sound and portray the view of the organisation to benefit existing and prospective clients.
- Respect copyright and fair use of materials by encouraging all contributors to acknowledge any original work posted. Through ethical and legal use of materials a positive tone will be created for the overall use of social media and the interactions that will follow.
- Understand the concept of community as social media is about connecting and having a conversation with your community. The content and tone must be positive so online experience is pleasant and valuable for all parties. All parties must respect each other’s privacy and maintain confidentiality.
- Productivity matters – within a work environment it is important for staff to know the guidelines for using social media during work time whether for study purposes, professional development or personal use. For students guidelines need to be established as the appropriate amount of time spent on various forms of social media. Finding the right balance between social media use and work will safeguard organizational and personal productivity.
Social media is ubiquitous and establishing a policy that sets the boundaries and empowers employees and clients’ use of the various social media tools will contribute to a positive social networking experience for all. Many organisations already have existing communication policies and social media policy can evolve from these. For social media policy to be effective there needs to be some staff training to leverage the benefits. As new social media tools are emerging rapidly the policy must be revised frequently so the guidelines are consistent with new technology developments.
Fleet, D. (2009, 18 October). Social Media policies [e-book]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/davefleet/social-media-policies-ebook
Kroski, E. (2009). Why should your library have a Social Media Policy? Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6699104.html
Lauby, S. (2009, 6 February). 10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy,[web log]. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2009/06/02/social-media-policy-musts/