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Just a few years ago, only tech-savvy companies had written social media policies in place. Now, it seems, just about every organization is looking for ways to define how they use social media. By taking a closer look at what a best-in-class social media policy looks like, it might be possible to improve your own organization’s policies.
One best-in-class example comes from an unlikely source: the FBI. The latest policy statement, approved in January 2018 by the U.S. Department of Justice, includes a number of features that should be part of any social media policy.
Feature #1: Overview of goals
One interesting aspect of the FBI social media policy is how it lays out, right at the beginning, what its goals are. First and foremost, says the FBI, the social media policy should promote the mission, goals and objectives of the Department of Justice. And it should also comply with applicable statutes, regulations and laws. In other words, any social media policy should be very much in sync with what your company believes in, and should be carefully tailored so that it follows the law in your specific legal jurisdiction.
Feature #2: Scenarios and situations
Moreover, the FBI’s social media policy clearly lays out who and what it applies to. For example, the FBI makes clear that it is to be used only for communication with the public. As a result, it does not apply to personal use by DOJ employees. And it does not apply to internal communications. And, perhaps most obviously, it does not apply to the operational side of any ongoing law enforcement or intelligence operations by FBI agents in the field.
Feature #3: Roles and responsibilities
In addition, the social media policy spends time reviewing the roles and responsibilities of all parties concerned. In the case of a private company, of course, these roles and responsibilities might differ somewhat. That being said, the FBI document touches on the responsibilities related to everyone from the social media coordinator to the web content manager. It also defines the roles of the Chief Privacy Officer, Senior Compliance Official, and ranking Ethics Official. You get the idea here – it’s pretty extensive, and there are no question marks here about who does what.
Feature #4: Approval mechanisms
Finally, the FBI’s social media policy spends some time reviewing how individuals can get approval to use new social media tools. In all cases, they must first get approval from the Social Media Working Group. So, a rogue employee can’t just start up, say, a brand-new TikTok account without getting someone to sign on to it. And, as the document makes clear, approval is only granted for official Department of Justice business.
If you are thinking about creating a social media policy for your own company or organization, take time to review each of these building blocks. In a straightforward, 10-page document, the FBI has done a remarkably good job of laying out a concise, actionable and relevant social media policy for how to communicate with the public. There are a lot of moving pieces at any organization, but working together under the same policy framework, employees can use social media effectively when interacting with the public.