Define the Positives of Social Media
Understanding the value of social media goes much further than focusing on the downsides. Sure, users can talk poorly about your company, products, or services. On the other hand, users can carry megaphones announcing how amazing you are, and you can enchant users to develop strong long-term relationships with clients and customers.
Clearly define all of the positive aspects and why social media is important. Focus on the things employees can do, not the things they can't. Social media policies are generally not restrictive except where common sense makes it necessary.
Keep it Productive
Many businesses see social networks as a waste of time, and for some, it is. Users are wasting a lot of time harvesting crops on Farmville and chit-chatting with friends and family, however, communication is usually a big part of any business. Consider social networking part of the job, but make sure you execute and find the balance between social media and the rest of the business objectives.
Encourage Responsibility and Authenticity
It's important for employees to be aware that correspondence online is public. That doesn't mean posts need to represent the business, but a user needs to be responsible for the things they say and post online. Common sense and good judgment go a long way here. Opinions are a great thing to have, but being portrayed as a bully or a racist is never acceptable. Employees should consider their actions before they publish content or media online - readers can consist of current and potential clients.
Copyrights and Fair Usage
Pretty straightforward; don't take credit for things that aren't your own, and credit authors in cases where it might be hard to tell if it is your content or somebody else's. Don't confuse this with sharing links and articles, which is entirely okay, because it points back to the original site.
Protect Confidential Information
While transparency is a great thing to have, employees are responsible for protecting proprietary data. California has specific laws for governing business secrets, and defining this clearly in the policy is important so employees know the repercussions and dangers of posting proprietary information online.
Educate and Engage
You might have employees who love what they do and love social media. Employees like this can bring a lot of value to your customers and clients if you release the reigns and let them experiment with social media. Good social media usage can generate buzz and improve relationships. Social media isn't just about posting information and talking at customers, but talking to customers. Sometimes the best official policy is simply encouraging happy, knowledgeable employees to share their experiences and knowledge on the social networks.
A great example would be a chef at a restaurant blogging about how to best prepare the perfect Glace au flour. Educating builds authority and trust, and the newfound knowledge of preparing delicious Glace au flour won't prevent customers from coming to the restaurant. This can build personal relationships and strengthen the company as a whole.
Make it Real
Above all else, encourage your employees to take part. Your business won't feel the magic of social media marketing without enchanting your followers, and you can't enchant anybody if you don't put some time into it. It has to be real, honest, and above all else, have fun with it!
Keeping your social media policy simple, straightforward, and based on common sense is the best approach. Check out what big businesses like Coca Cola, Best Buy, and IBM are doing on the social networks - plenty of businesses are finding a lot of opportunity on the social networks and with proper policies and effort yours can too.