Social media policy for small businesses – is it important?

Social media apps on a phone

Most people use social media frequently, and it’s also likely to be part of your business’s marketing strategy.

That’s why it’s important to have a social media policy that outlines how employees should use company and personal social accounts while working for you.

Read on for social media policy examples and an overview of what you need to include.

What is a social media policy?

A social media policy is an important document that all businesses should have. Your company’s social media policy will outline your expectations when it comes to use of business social media accounts, as well as personal use that may affect the business.

Every business’s social media policy will be different depending on what sector they operate in and how many employees they have. However, all policies will include information on key topics such as posting etiquette and account security.

It’s crucial that businesses are proactive and have a social media policy in place from the outset, rather than publishing one in response to an incident such as a copyright infringement.

Why is it important to have a social media policy?

A social media policy for employees can provide your business with valuable protection against the reputational risks of a poorly-timed or badly-worded message, as well as the legal risks of sharing sensitive information.

It can also help you to:

  • maintain brand tone of voice
  • make sure all employees know what’s expected of them
  • reduce security risks
  • improve customer service

Social media has lots of benefits for employers, such as improving brand recognition, generating leads, and communicating with customers.

Having a robust social media policy in the workplace can help your business to enjoy these benefits while reducing the impact of online risks.

At the same time, staff are more likely to post positively about your business, known as employee advocacy, if they know where they stand.

What to include in a company social media policy

Most social media policies will have sections on business and personal use of social media, as well as guidelines on security.

It may also be worthwhile including the following details:

  • a definition of social media posting and list of key platforms – make sure the policy explains that it covers all types of social media
  • whether you allow staff to access social media at work if it’s not part of their job
  • an explanation of what happens if an employee breaches the social media policy – for example, if they’ll they face a gross misconduct hearing in line with your disciplinary policy

There are more details on what to include in some of the key sections below.

Company guidelines

This section can give an overview of the company’s approach to social media, with guidelines for employees who’ll be posting on your business accounts.

Here are some of the main points you’ll need to cover:

  • posting etiquette – give an overview of how you expect staff to approach posting and engaging with other users, reminding them about brand tone of voice
  • copyright rules – staff will need to consider copyright rules when posting on social media, for example using licensed images
  • sharing sensitive information – make sure employees are aware that they need to be careful about posting sensitive company or personal information, such as a business plan or salary details
Social media team meeting

Photograph: DisobeyArt/

Personal guidelines

It’s important that staff know your expectations when it comes to using their personal accounts both professionally and in their own time.

These are some of things you’ll need to include:

  • rules for mentioning the company – give details of how staff should approach posting about the company using their personal accounts
  • distinguishing between personal and professional posts – explain that employees should clearly separate their personal posts and opinions
  • general posting guidelines – remind employees of their legal and ethical responsibilities when using their personal accounts

Security guidelines

Another important aspect of your workplace social media policy will be making sure that employees follow security guidelines.

Here are some of the main points you could include:

  • devices and software – outline how often operational software is updated and which devices can be used on the company network to post social media content
  • passwords for company accounts – explain how they’ll be stored and the process for when people leave the company
  • using personal accounts on company devices – highlight your rules on staff using personal social media accounts on company devices in the workplace and at home

How to write a social media company policy

Your company’s social media policy should be clear, concise, and easy to read.

When you’re putting the policy together, make sure you get input from employees across the business, including those with expertise in social media and legal matters.

Once the policy is ready, share it with your employees and make sure they can access it easily.

It’s important to review your social media policy regularly, taking into account new platforms and security risks, as well as the growth of your business.

Selling on social media – the top tips

As well as using social media to promote their brand, many small businesses now use it to sell their products and services directly to customers.

If your business is thinking about selling via social media, we’ve put together some top tips for how to use Facebook and Instagram.

Read our how-to guides to get started:

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Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling is a professional writer with over 10 years’ experience across the property, small business, and insurance sectors. A trained journalist, Conor’s previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor has worked at Simply Business as a Copywriter for three years, specialising in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.

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