Step 12: Good governance

Eight things every organisation should have in place to ensure good social media governance.

  1. Have a social media policy and review it once a year to check its ongoing relevance - here's an example policy.

  2. Ensure that social media is embedded within your organisational emergency plan.

    We know that social media is often where emergencies break first and if this happens to you you'll need to manage social media even more carefully than normal - and potentially around the clock. The emergency plan should cater for this.

  3. Publish a list of your organisation's social media accounts on your external-facing website to highlight the accounts you manage and services you offer on social.

  4. Have a ‘new account business case' application form available for staff who are interested in opening a new account.

    This can either be a great opportunity, or add unnecessary extra work when an existing account could do the job more effectively. This form will help you to decide the best course of action.

  5. Make it very clear to staff that their personal use of social media must not bring the organisation into any form of disrepute.

    Point them towards your existing HR policy, you don't need to create a new policy just for social media.

  6. Have a clear policy relating to passwords – how they are stored, shared and updated.

  7. Staff running organisational accounts must supply a short report to the communications team each month in order to feedback

    on the key achievements, outputs and outcomes. This should be a part of the agreement for staff running organisational accounts.

  8. Make a clear decision on whether the social media policy applies to elected members.

    If it doesn't talk to them informally and regularly about the benefits of them having social media accounts but also of the organisation's expectations on use and behaviours.

Top tip - a word about passwords

It's good practice to ensure that your central comms team has the passwords for all social media accounts across your organisation. This isn't to be controlling or ‘big-brother-ish', it's simply based on sound rationale and good business sense. There's many a case study of things going badly wrong on social media when a member of staff with sole access to a password has shared damaging messages on social media, leaving the organisation red-faced and unable to do anything about it in the short term.

Part of the internal agreement a member of staff or team makes when opening an organisational social media account should be the commitment to share all passwords and every time they are changed

Also do makes sure that you have robust passwords – yes, that's stating the obvious but it is worth reinforcing – and do ensure that passwords are regularly changed and always, always, always immediately after you have shared a password with a colleague to allow them to post messages and engage on a main organisational account.

When to close an account

Following a review of your organisational accounts you'll be armed with significant insight and data on effectiveness and engagement rates and be able to recommend improvements to the account's performance. Sometimes these reviews will highlight that it may be best to close an account which is poorly managed, not posting content or not responding to questions and suggestions. In this instance it would be best to close the account and encourage your followers onto more suitable accounts.

Sometimes an account needs to be closed because a campaign has come to an end – think carefully about opening a campaign-specific social media account and look at the pros and cons of simply running the campaign through a more established existing account instead and which will have greater reach and potential.