Many social media pages, feeds and groups have become the “Wild West” of online communication. Caution is sometimes thrown to the window as participants voice their opinions and positions, often with great abandon. How do you manage these activities? Your first line of defense is in the form of offense: a social media participation policy.
Not sure where or how to get started? Here are some suggestions on the topics you should cover along with proposed language you can use on your own site (in quotations):
1. Start on a positive note: Begin by welcoming your followers to the Group/Page/Feed. Remind participants that observance of the rules is a condition of participation. “Welcome to the LinkedIn Community! As a member of the Group, you agree to observe the following guidelines…”
2. Discourage bad behavior: these should be obvious, but you should reinforce them anyway. Be smart about posts: it’s a good idea to remind your participants that haste makes waste – as in wasted time. “Please do not post or share content that contains material that is inappropriate, unlawful, threatening, abusive, or profane.” “Group members should not violate the property rights of others. Do not post any content that infringes on any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, or other proprietary rights of any party.” “Members should not violate local, state, national, or international laws in connection with the use of the Discussion Boards.” “Do not post links that lead to viruses, worms, corrupted files, or any other software or programs that may adversely affect the operation of another computer.” “Please refrain from spamming other Group members. If you see spam on a discussion board or receive spam from another Group member, please alert a Group manager.” “Group members should not impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent his/her affiliation to another person or entity.”
3. Be smart about posts: it’s a good idea to remind your participants that haste makes waste – as in wasted time. “Please refrain from reposting the same discussion multiple times; the Group reserves the right to delete duplicate posts.”
4. Most importantly, protect your brand: disclaim others’ bad behavior. “This Group does not endorse, and specifically disclaims, any responsibility or liability for any content submitted to the online community.”
Where do you post this information? You can start by posting it on your brand’s website so that your customers can access this important information. The “About” section is a popular place to post your code of conduct on your brand’s Facebook page. On LinkedIn, Group Managers can add their Group Rules under the “Manage” tab. Twitter has some really robust policies regarding engagement. Tweet a welcome to new followers and link them to the policy posted to your website.