10 tips to help your business avoid a social media disaster

6. Train employees regularly

A written document is not enough. Creaser says employees need to be trained in how to do social media and which policies are in place, and it needs to be clear and understandable. When you set a schedule for reviewing policies and updating them, that's also a good time to schedule any related training that goes along with the posted guidelines.

Everyone's an expert on social media these days

Everyone's an expert on social media these days

7. Make it a collaborative effort

Many companies make the mistake of creating social media policies in a vacuum. The 'experts' all meet to discuss the rules, then roll them out to those who they perceive as not having enough knowledge about social media to make any meaningful comments.

With almost two billion people on Facebook, that's no longer possible – everyone is an expert. Joanna Belbey, a Social Media and Compliance Expert at Actiance, says it's important to include stakeholders in the legal department, marketing, risk assessment, and any other department. "A sound social media policy begins with collaboratively identified areas for concern," she observes.

8. Stick to the brand

A good approach with a social media policy is to instruct all employees that this is about the brand, not about any personal issues. Make sure this is clearly defined and communicated. Tony Mena from Homeland Security Protective Service says it's too easy for employees to switch to a more personal voice when the goal of corporate social media is brand engagement. It is far better to have guidelines about what can be said on behalf of the company.

9. Develop a routine

Many companies use an ad hoc approach to social media, even if they have policies in place. Matthew Mercuri, the Digital Marketing Manager at the steam cleaner company Dupray, says your social media team needs to stick to a routine. This might involve checking the accounts of 20 or more social media sites, from Facebook to Friendable, to see if there are any comments. It's important to have a set routine to check each one on a daily basis.

10. Know what to do when someone is fired

Henson says that when his firm trains companies in social media policies, they always cover what to do when an employee is terminated. This should always involve deleting any social media accounts as soon as possible along with the normal network access, emails, and logins. Too often, an employee who is terminated is the one person who then starts posting negative comments. This procedure should be well-documented and enforced in all departments at the company.

John Brandon

John Brandon has covered gadgets and cars for the past 12 years having published over 12,000 articles and tested nearly 8,000 products. He's nothing if not prolific. Before starting his writing career, he led an Information Design practice at a large consumer electronics retailer in the US. His hobbies include deep sea exploration, complaining about the weather, and engineering a vast multiverse conspiracy.