Rick Barron
Rick Barron 18 October 2019

Working Towards Common Ground

Much has been written about the importance of social media policy and why every company should have one. However, what's often overlooked by companies and experts alike is that creation of a policy by itself isn't cause enough to celebrate.

Much has been written about the importance of social media policy and why every company should have one. However, what's often overlooked by companies and experts alike is that creation of a policy by itself isn't cause enough to celebrate.

So, let me start by saying that social media governance is much more than just a policy. Governance is much broader in scope than policy and has greater significance, especially for larger companies.

While your social media policy defines how your employees should engage via social media channels, your governance model is a bundle of policies, guidelines, processes, and educational resources to guide your employees to successfully represent your company in social media activities.

Here are 5 key elements of a solid social media governance model to get you started:

1-Definition of Scope: This sounds so basic but it is critical that you define what is and isn't covered by your governance model. Be sure to call out the specific social channels along with the policies and guidelines that relate to each of them. Depending on the business and organizational needs, some companies may decide to have a common governance model for their internal and external customer-facing communities, while others may decide to keep the two separate. So, it's essential to call out which ones are included to provide clarity to your employees.


2-Frequency & Process for Updates: Given that social media is evolving at the pace of light, your governance model will need regular review and update. Make sure you define the frequency [quarterly, once a year, midyear, etc.] of updates and the process for those updates. You’ll want to establish a cadence to ensure your governance model is not outdated and provides clarity on how the updates are made. If you want employee participation in the review (highly recommended), make sure you call it out along with details on when and how to provide input.


3-Branding Guidelines: For a large company, the broad variety of social media channels makes it imperative to clearly call out the branding guidelines for your external channels. The same principles that govern the design of all your external-facing communications such as website, collateral, etc. should be applied to official social channels. Your website and social media channels should complement one another. Think about, but not limited to, branded templates for your social channels like Facebook and Twitter, social sharing & follow icons, as well as the use of company logo, color themes and related elements on external-facing channels. A great reference document is your company’s Branding Style Guide.


4-Training & Education: A solid governance model should have plenty of educational resources for employees. Yearly training courses/renewal courses, would be ideal to establish ongoing consistency.  This should include training on responding to customer feedback, both positive and negative. And in an age when customers readily take to social networks to complain and criticize—and hackers look to embarrass and extort—oversight around who accesses which networks and how is critical.

Typically, it's the customer support and PR organizations that are assigned with the responsibility of responding to customer feedback. However, social media is breaking down the traditional boundaries and depending on your company's social media engagement policy, it could be a marketing or salesperson who is having to respond to a customer query.

Another area to plan [a must in my book] about creating and maintaining a Social Media Style Guide. There are many “do’s and don’ts” in social media and each channel has its own faux pas. This is the area of social media governance which guides and educates users as to how to respond, what to post, what voice to use, tone, syntax, and netiquette.

5-Approval Processes & Continuity Planning: Your governance model should clearly call out what approval processes are in place for employees to engage in social media. It should answer questions such as: Can everyone participate (highly recommended) or only members of certain external-facing groups can engage via your company's social channels? What is the process for getting approval for an official account? Other items, but not a complete list by any

  • Who are your corporate stakeholders for social media governance?
  • What are your corporate risk priorities?
  • Should your social media governance team be centralized or localized?
  • How do your corporate goals integrate and impact social media usage and governance?
  • What social media governance metrics and KPIs will be used to monitor performance, progress, and effectiveness?
  • What is the relationship between your marketing and branding strategy and social media governance?
  • How and when will social media brand audits be performed, and who will take ownership of this task?
  • Who is responsible for the overall social media presence and profile?
  • What protocols and processes are in place to handle different risks and crisis (e.g. reputational damage, cyber threat breach, etc.)?
  • Who governs logins/passwords for your social media accounts?
  • What is the list of names and other information, who have access to your social media accounts?

It should go without saying, it's critical you have a continuity plan, which covers not only accounts are set up but how the account will be transitioned to a new owner if needed. Having a centralized governance model in place will ensure that you're not locked out of your highly popular Twitter or Facebook account/s if the person engaging on your company's behalf decides to leave the company.

Start with a robust social media governance model as that will empower your employees with the right resources and training to become successful advocates for your company.


About the author

Hi, my name is Rick and I thank you for reading this article!

I explore to learn new stuff every day and here I will share all my experiences and thoughts with you.

You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram. :)

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