Drafting a Social Media Policy for Your Association

By Allison Scudder • October 20, 2022

You’re creating engaging content for your members and posting on your association’s social media pages consistently — nice work! However, have you thought about how your employees’ and board members’ online interactions can help or hurt your social media marketing efforts? What your employees and board members say about your association on their professional and personal social media profiles can impact the reputation of your organization — for good or bad. At the same, with a little guidance, you can leverage their time on social media to increase your association’s brand awareness in a positive light. That’s where a social media policy for your association will help. It can guide employees and board members on ways to contribute to the organization’s online presence as well as establish measures to protect your association’s reputation. 

What is a Social Media Policy?

Just as your association’s employee handbook outlines policies and your board charter outlines board member guidelines and commitments, procedures, and behavioral expectations, a social media policy covers your association’s communication channels and sets guidelines for the professional use of social media by employees and other groups. It’s not simply a list of don’ts, although guarding against legal and security risks is essential. The policy is meant to encourage representatives of your association to contribute an authentic voice, bringing an element of trust to your digital presence. Written using clear and concise language, the guidelines in the policy will help your entire organization embrace social media for the good while limiting the chances of harming your association’s brand. 

What Your Association Social Media Policy Should Include

A social media policy is meant to protect your association and contains rules and regulations. You don’t, however, want to deter people from using social media altogether when it can benefit your organization. The key is to strike a balance by including the following elements in your policy. 

Roles and Responsibilities

Today’s social media marketing includes activities that go beyond simply posting on your association’s social platforms. There can be several people involved, and the responsibilities defined for each can vary from one organization to another. They include:

  • Social media manager: Responsible for curating the organization’s online presence via social media channels and may play a part in executing social campaigns
  • Community manager: Charged with promoting audience engagement and building relationships by acting as a user on the social media platforms
  • Social media content curator: Along with creating the content for social posts, they may also act as the voice of the association and reply to user’s comments

As you can see, establishing clear boundaries on who can speak on behalf of your association and who can’t will not only create less confusion but ensure your message and protocols are consistent across all of your social channels. 

Security Protocols

Once you’ve established who can post on your association’s social platforms, the next item to include in your social media policy are security measures. To safeguard access to information, outline where account passwords are stored and how often they are updated. Consider using a password manager to keep all your association’s sensitive login information in one place. As legal issues can arise when security is involved, it’s a good idea to reach out to your legal counsel as you draft the social media policy, too.  

Personal Social Media Accounts

It’s better to be safe than sorry when outlining what is and what is not acceptable for employees and board members to post about your association. Sharing information, such as company news, a promotion, or a photo during community service day, are great examples of raising awareness for your organization. To encourage engagement, create fun ways for employees to get involved on your association’s social platforms. For example, an employee recognition program can motivate employees to participate online. If they comment on a post, they get points which can in some way be redeemed. 

On the flip side, comments that violate your association’s code of conduct or are illegal, such as hate speech or threats of violence, can affect their employment or status on the board and your reputation. What’s more, heavily regulated fields such as healthcare and finance have strict policies as to what people can mention online. In general, it’s best to help your employees and board members by providing black-and-white examples of what is appropriate and what is not to avoid surprises. 

Crisis Plan

While the goal of a social media policy is to avoid a PR or security crisis, it’s good practice to have one in place for added precaution. First, explain what circumstances define a crisis and who people should contact. In addition, there should be an internal communication game plan to respond to these situations. Hopefully, you will never have to use a crisis plan for your association. However, having one ready will help address it immediately and lessen any negative impact. 

Implement Your Association’s Social Media Policy

Now that you have a solid policy in place, it’s time to decide where it will live. One recommendation would be to include it in your association’s employee handbook and board paperwork. The entire organization has access to this document, therefore, keeping it visible and top of mind.  

Like your employee handbook and board paperwork, it’s a good idea to update the social media policy on a regular basis, as well. Especially with constant changes to social platforms, you’ll want to adjust your association’s guidelines on social media accordingly. 

Lastly, enforcing the policy will establish that your association takes social media use seriously. Not only are you trying to avoid sticky situations, but encouraging employee and board member participation in a positive way will help build your association’s online brand, too.

To learn more about how Naylor can help you develop the right social media voice for your association, reach out to our team today

About The Author

Allison Scudder is a corporate marketing specialist at Naylor Association Solutions. Reach her at [email protected].