Social media policy and strategy: what’s the difference and what’s the point?

Updated April 2024

Why bother with standard procedures for social media?

Many businesses still think of social media as a passing craze that they’ve been obliged to jump on; some stick the intern on the job, hoping they’ll come up with enough content to keep its Facebook page ticking over until social media’s ‘inevitable demise’.

We’ve got bad news – social media isn’t going anywhere. Statistics show that Facebook continues to dominate the social landscape with over 3 billion monthly active users, while ‘upstarts’ like TikTok have grown to 1.5 billion in a short space of time. LinkedIn, the professional social platform, alone boasts over 300 million monthly active users in 2024.

If your customers are part of this enormous audience then you need to treat your social media activity as you would your overall marketing – with a structured campaign strategy, and a relevant policy in place to advise your employees and protect your brand.

For these reasons we have outlined the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of implementing social media policy and strategy below:

Social media policy

What’s the point?

Cast your mind back to HMV’s PR disaster in 2013, when a vengeful soon to be ex-employee shamed the struggling retailer online. Where did it start? The employee had admin access to HMV’s Twitter account, and upon learning of her impending redundancy, logged in to air her grievances for the world to see. This could have been discouraged or prevented by a solid social media policy, which controlled who had access to the company social media accounts, and clearly outlined what was permissible to post.

Don’t make the same mistakes as HMV – write a social media policy into your employees’ contracts to ensure they’re aware of your company policy from an early point in proceedings, and to provide you with some legal grounds for action if someone does breach the policy.

How do I create a social media policy?

Your policy needs to cover employees’ personal and professional use of social media. It should cover the following:

  • The purpose of the company’s social media
  • Which social media accounts and activities the policy covers
  • Who is covered by the policy
  • Consequences of policy breach
  • Business use of social media
  • If and when employees can post on behalf of the business
  • Personal use of social media
  • If and when employees are permitted to access personal social media accounts from work devices/during work hours
  • Protection of customer and company privacy
  • Permissible and non-permissible posts about the company
  • Legal warnings about financial information
  • Who has permission to access the company accounts
  • General legal obligations regarding social media activity
  • Best practice for employees
  • Who is the main social media admin

Social media strategy

What’s the point?

Why do you plan anything? To give yourself the best chance of success. So why would you leave your interactions with your audience on social media to chance? Make sure your social media posts are planned and relevant to each audience, and make sure you’re getting return on investment from your activities.

How do I create a social media strategy?

Exactly as you’d go about creating a marketing strategy:

  • Establish the desired outcomes from your social media activity and decide how you will measure success – what are your key performance indicators? How will you measure user engagement Number of followers? Resulting website visits?
  • Establish which platforms you use/would like to use (YouTube, Facebook etc)
  • Define which audiences you’d like to target from each platform
  • Develop messaging for each audience
  • Use research you have about your social media audiences (if any) to inform your messaging
  • Decide who will be responsible for your social media activity
  • Decide how you will post content – through scheduled or spontaneous posts?
  • Plan a timeline of content for each platform, based around the messaging for each platform
  • Provide best practice guidelines for content and frequency of posts

Still unsure what to include in your social media policy or strategy? Give us a call, we’d be happy to arrange a meeting to discuss your needs.