How to Create Empowering Digital Guidelines

In today’s wired, social world, the reputation that you have worked so hard to build can be damaged in a matter of minutes. How can you be better prepared to make sure that this does not happen to you? Is your team armed with the necessary training, how to’s and do’s and don’ts to not only protect your brand but help build it?

Social media can provide limitless possibilities for brand development. With team members working together you can rapidly develop and strengthen your brand identity.

However, it seems that companies large and small around the globe are struggling to keep up with the ever-changing online scene; what they seem to be missing most is getting their teams and/or centers of influence on board with everything they do socially on the Internet from the very beginning. Businesses must focus on creating strong online and social policies and procedures for all involved.


Having a precise overview and agreement on best practices and how to’s for your team to not only read and sign, but also understand and follow, is vital to your online success. You need to guide employees, team members, vendors and even family members as to what they can and cannot do online when it comes to representing your brand, product or service. A couple of wrong turns online and you can end up lost. Here are the top five things you need to know when creating your social media and online policies and procedures manual.

1. Include Family, Friends & Vendors: When it comes to policies and procedures for your team members, you now need to include informing your vendors, as well as your family members, if they are involved in your business at any level. This might be a little bit shocking, but a slip-up from a vendor that is publicly connected to your brand or from one of your children, to whom you are connected on a social site, can be associated with your brand identity.

2. Empower Your Team: It’s not enough to direct your team about what they can’t post online; you need to tell them what they can do. This includes where they can post, how their profiles should be written in regard to their employment or relationship to the brand and what information can be posted in the profile about your company. These questions need to be answered in the best interests of your company.

That said, there’s a caveat: Whatever you do, do not block access to the Internet. Your team is a voice for the brand. You can suggest posting between certain times or have set hours to cover when your customers and clients might be online, but do not put tape over the mouths of people who can bring positive exposure for your company.

3. Include Rights of Ownership: Ownership rights are a vital component of any public presence of your brand. If your employees are co-branding with you by developing their own online presences, who will own the branding they do for your company? Key protections for your business include ensuring that your team members understand that all the brand building they do on your company’s behalf are for the sole benefit of your brand. In guiding them on the range of acceptable topics and conversations, you are also developing your brand.

4. Release Electronically With Motivational Video: When you have created your social policies and they have been checked by your legal counsel, one of the most effective ways to release this new guide is by creating a quick 60-second video with a motivational boost, attached for electronic viewing.

You can use sites such as DocuSign or SutiSoft to grab and file their electronic acceptance. These sites offer reliable and certified electronic signature software starting at $30 per month.

5. Issue a Follow-Up Quiz/Questionnaire: In order to avoid any confusion about your new social policies and procedures manual, issue a quick 10- or 20-question quiz once per quarter. It will ensure that team members understand what they have signed and agreed to follow. This is also a great way to communicate any changes such as new site policies or approved content that can be used online for posting.

Just as most businesses require team members who speak with media to have media training, it is important that your team members really “get” your brand’s social media polices and procedures. After all, your team is now speaking with the media online. PRN

[This article was adapted from PR News’ Employee Communications Guidebook, Vol. 3.]


Starr Hall is a publicist and columnist for Entrepreneur magazine, and associate partner, consumer technology & entertainment with Level, a Rosetta Company. She can be reached at