Tips for Creating Your Public Library’s Social Media Policy

If social media is part of your public library marketing plan, then you should create a social media policy. Social media policies govern the use of social networks by your employees on behalf of your public library. A policy can protect your public library from misstatements and errors in communications. It also reduces the risk of your internal bloggers and Tweeters inadvertently crossing the law.

Creating a social media policy isnt difficult and doesnt require a slew of lawyers. In fact, if you have an employee code of conduct, you may have most of what you need already.  In addition, there are many resources, including templates and examples, on the Web.

Here are a few tips for developing a social media policy:

  • Involve the right people. Gaining buy-in from key stakeholders is critical. Get feedback early from your board of trustees as well as members of your staff who are tasked with marketing and branding.
  • Recognize that social media is more about openness than controlling the message. Your policy should aim for more transparency, within reason. While you dont want to broadcast personal or confidential information, you do want to create an environment that encourages conversation.
  • Clearly articulate the purpose of your social media efforts. This is the cornerstone of your policy. When everyone understands the goal of a social media program, they will post appropriate content.
  • Identify who owns social media in your public library. There must be one person who has the final say on what is posted in your channels and a procedure for vetting selected content. This doesnt mean that every piece of content needs to be reviewed before being posted. Thats not possible or desired. But, some content such as responses to negative comments should be reviewed before posting. Spell out this process in your policy.
  • Keep it short and simple. Social media policies dont need to be lengthy. The most critical points can be covered in just two pages, which makes it more likely that your social media team will internalize the dos and donts.
  • Train your staff on the policy. Providing your staff with a copy of the policy isnt enough to ensure it will be followed. Once your policy is complete, be sure to schedule a training session to cover it in detail and answer questions.
  • Review your policy at least once a year. Social networking is changing constantly. Make sure your policy stays current.

Here are some resources to get you started on creating a social media policy:

About Tiffany McClary

Tiffany McClary is the Director of Communications, Marketing & Outreach for the New Jersey State Library. She coordinates marketing and public relations initiatives in order to enhance the reputation of the State Library, and promote the value of NJ libraries and the services and programs that they provide to residents.