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June 2, 2010 / The_Mike_Johnson

Clarifying the Conversation: How to Develop Your Social Media Policy – PRSANY Panel May 6

Panelists for the PRSANY May 6 panel, “Clarifying the Conversation: How to Develop Your Social Media Policy.” (left to right) Alayna Francis of Swiss Re, Taylor Morris from American Heart Association, Steve Halsey from Gibbs & Soell Public Relations.

With the growth of Facebook and Twitter gaining greater use in the corporate sector, many companies must now incorporate their own social media policy. But where do you begin? The Public Relations Society of America – New York Chapter held a panel on May 6, “Clarifying the Conversation: How to Develop Your Social Media Policy” provided information and tips on providing a social media policy for employees.

Speakers included:

Alayna Francis, VP, Swiss Re. Alayna advises on the global reinsurer’s internal communications framework, which has now been expanded to cover digital and social media.

Taylor Morris, Regional Director, Digital Communications & New Media, American Heart Association. Taylor develops the non-profit organization’s regional marketing and communications strategy utilizing digital and social media.

Steve Halsey, VP-Digital Media of Gibbs & Soell Public Relations (moderator). Steve shapes social media policies within PR strategies, including those for firms in regulated industries such as law and chemical manufacturing.

Steve provided the following points:

– Gibbs Soell established their social media policy in 2008

– Less than 30% of companies have a social media policy

– Setting policy is similar to traditional office/work policy such as: don’t use work computers for personal stuff, don’t send jokes or go shopping online, don’t clog up bandwidth by downloading videos and music

– Don’t write your social media plan in a vacuum: Get input from your Legal, Marketing, Communications, Human Resources, Executives

– Implementation Tips: Take time to explain the “why,” train employees on the proper use of social media; promote and celebrate best practices and success stories

Alayna provided the following points:

– In 2006 she was using social media and wanted to incorporate a blog policy into social media policy

– 65% have active Twitter accounts, 54% have Facebook fan pages, 50% have YouTube channel as per a Burson Marsteller Social media study of Fortune Global 100 companies

– Who gets involved in constructing the policy? Communications, Legal, Human Resources, Senior Executives, and the IT Department

– Even though Alayna is shaping the current social media policy she cannot access YouTube or Twitter at her own company

– Educate the non-believers in your organization

Taylor provided the following points:

– The National office of American Heart Association provided her with a sixty page binder social media policy which she then made into a one sheet guideline for her office

– For those employees  thinking of creating something in their interest/specialty, they should answer the following questions before they start a blog or Facebook page:

– What is your goal and who is your audience?

– Do you want to raise money? Inform? Add names to database? Get new board members?

– Which person will be taking ownership and providing content? Who takes the lead? Are you adding to the conversation? Is the Communications department involved?

– How do you measure success? Will it be by the number of fans, online engagement (comments, etc.)?

– To address the fear of “What if?” (situations such as: what if a former employee that was fired now starts adding negative comments to the company blog), you need to react quickly and accordingly, decide if something requires a response

– In a perfect world your staff is reading and understanding social media guidelines, has a strategy, and clear goals

– American Heart Association is doing more with Flip video and concentrating on survivor stories (keeping the video no more than three minutes in length), covering buzz events, and telling a story

– Let members of your staff try new things and have a six month check-up/review, and if nothing is really happening you may have to change strategy

Visit American Heart Association on:

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