A simple way to tackle your associationís
social media policy needs is to consider your stakeholdersí needs by category.
By Terrance Barkan, CAE
everyone agrees that an association needs social media policies. However, it is
not a "one-size fits all" propositionóespecially for associations
that have volunteers that can be viewed as individuals who represent the
association is drafting its social media policies, think of these four
different categories of stakeholders and adjust your social media policies
1. Staff with an explicit social media responsibility. This is for anyone who is required
to use social media as part of their job description and responsibilities.
These policies should be clear on how to use social media (desired behavior)
and what is explicitly prohibited use.
2. Staff not required to use social media. Most likely, you will have a large number of staff
who do not have any requirement or duty to use social media as part of their
job. A social media policy for this class of staff member should be clear on
how social media may be used, if at
all. That will depend on your association's strategy and plans and whether
staff that are not required to use social media are allowed to use social media for association business-related
topics. This is a judgment call that should involve the associationís CEO.
3. Staff that have a hire/fire authority. Any association manager that is in a position to
make a hire or fire decision needs a separate human resource-related set of
social media use policies that covers the hiring process (e.g. how your
association can use social media when vetting or selecting candidates), as well
as management issues such as disciplinary proceedings and termination. This falls
into the "risk management" category of social media issues, and the associationís
CEO definitely needs to provide direction in this area of the organizationís
4. Volunteers and members. Most likely, you will need separate policies for your
volunteer leaders, starting with your board of directors (or the equivalent).
Again, this is a judgment call whether you want to have volunteers using social
media or if you feel that it is not appropriate for volunteers, members,
speakers etc. to use social media in the name of your organization. If you have
no policies in place, then expect that sooner or later an issue of
inappropriate use will arise, including things like a member starting a
LinkedIn group using your logo but without your permission.
the formation of association social media policy in terms of categories forces
association publishers and leaders to consider a broader social media strategy
for their organization, including important decisions on how you intend for different
stakeholder groups to engage with your association and the broader community
through social media.
Terrance Barkan, CAE is chief strategist for SOCIALSTRAT, a social media