Does your business need a Social Media Policy or a Social Media Plan? This question may not concern you if you are a freelancer or only have 1 or 2 employees. You may just do what you want with social media. (The consequences are typically far less than for a larger company.) But the larger the business, the more important it becomes to have a social media policy. You need to determine how social media should be used and what is acceptable and unacceptable, within reason. You also need a plan as to how social media will be used by the company. For some, the difference can be confusing. So let’s break it down.
1. Which comes first?
The social media policy typically comes first. Get the do’s and don’ts out of the way. You can then move forward with the plan, which tends to be more creative and flexible.
2. Who uses it?
The social media policy typically applies to all employees of the business. It outlines what is expected of them and encourages them to be positive and proactive. It may therefore be used by HR (or even Legal) when problems arise. The social media plan is primarily for those involved in doing social media for the business. It is usually developed with input from marketing, pr, customer service, and the legal department.
3. When is it used?
The social media policy should be reviewed by all new employees as they are hired. Many businesses require that they sign it along with other similar guidelines on computer use, etc. It typically is only brought up again if problems arise. The social media plan is more of a road map for those involved in using social media for the business. It should therefore be used more frequently. It may be referred to every day by those doing social media.
4. What does it contain?
The social media policy has some standard information it should contain. (I have more specifics on that later.) The social media plan contains plans and goals specifically for your business. Due to the nature of social media, consultants are typically brought in to provide ideas and an ear to what other companies are doing successfully.
The above explanations should help define the difference between the two. In my next post I’ll offer some more explanation as to what a good social media policy should contain.