Social media governance for company directors

“How do I stop someone saying something bad about my brand in the social media?” This question, or a variation of it, is something I get asked regularly. The truth of the matter is that can’t stop someone complaining about your brand on a social media platform anymore than you can stop them joining one.

Asking the question actually highlights the need for a shift in thinking. Controlling the conversation simply won’t work and not participating at all is far too high a risk. What is needed is an approach to social media ‘governance’ (the way decisions are authorised and monitored) that is based on a few key principles, ones that every company board needs to be across.

A simple policy. A social media policy is always at the centre of best practice governance. To manage the risks that your customers and employees face in the social media space it may be necessary to develop a lengthy social media policy. If so make it accessible by creating and engaging overview. Ensure you include simple and practical advice on how the platforms work, where to find brand guidelines and how to behave online.

The Victorian Department of Justice has developed an excellent example of how to best approach this. It has developed a great video of it’s social media policy that allows the viewer to absorb the core concepts in a few minutes. As it’s social media we can all see it on YouTube:

Listen carefully. Relationships tend to fail when one side of the relationship doesn’t feel they are being heard. Your brand is in an ongoing relationship with its relevant market. So it is highly beneficial for your staff to have visibility of what that market is saying.

There are many social media monitoring tools available to help you do this. Some are better for near real-time insights and some far better suited to give you deeper historical insights. What is important is to have a clear listening strategy and to get the results in front of your staff. For an example of how this can transform a business see what Gatorade has done:

Train everyone. There is little point developing a policy and getting the tools in place if nobody knows how to use them. And it only takes one misplaced Facebook message or Tweet to turn a disagreement into a disaster. Social media training is vital for those on the ‘front lines’ but it is advisable to get as many of your staff involved as possible.

Keep up to date. A best practice approach to social media governance recognises that it will need to be revised regularly – that it is always “work in progress”. The world of social media moves rapidly as new platforms, techniques and laws are introduced. So it makes sense to keep the documentation concise and flexible so it is not an onerous job to alter it.


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