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Without policy there is no social media strategy

Social media strategy is the buzz phrase of the day, but without policy no strategy can be implemented. Learn why you need a policy to support your social strategy
Written Mar 10, 2010, read 2125 times since then.


There's a lot of articles available about the importance of developing a social media strategy, as well as how to develop one. I agree with the authors that it is important to develop a social media strategy, but what often is missing is what makes strategy into reality: policy. Having a social media strategy without a policy provides an overall picture of what you will do, but doesn't include the clarifying details that are needed to actually implement the strategy. At the same time, having a policy without a strategy doesn't provide any understanding of how the business will actually engage social media. Since there are many articles on social media strategy, I would like to instead present some key elements of social media policy that are necessary to implement any strategy developed.

1. Determine who has the authority to set-up and maintain social media profiles and presence on any site. You don't necessarily want just anyone setting up and maintaining the social media presence of your business. Determine who is qualified and will best represent your company on a given social media site. You may find it useful to assign multiple people to different social media sites, but regardless of how you do it, make sure it's someone who will check in with the organization and maintain a consistent message that agrees with the company's branding, culture, and message.

Even if you are a solopreneur, focusing on this detail can help you recognize how you will implement social media practically into your business. What are you giving yourself the authority to do on social media sites? This is a question that can help a solopreneur determine what his/her role should be in using social media for business.

2. Define the activities that you want to accomplish. Your social media strategy goal might be to generate better customer service relationships, but your policy needs to describe in detail the activities that will help you accomplish that goal. Also your policy should describe how much time is allotted to each site and activity. Finally, defining what is not acceptable activity can help the business owner or employees recognize what they need to do on social media during business time, as opposed to personal time. spending all day playing games on Facebook isn't productive, but responding to a customer experience at your business is productive.

You'll want to develop site specific policies as well. How people use Biznik differs from how they use Facebook or Linkedin and the audience is different as well. Developing specific policies for specific sites will target your activity effectively on each site.

3. Determine who to escalate negative comments about your business to. There may be times, when a negative comment is written about your business. Having a chain of command that you can escalate the comment to can help determine who should respond to it, as well as how it should be responded to. For a solopreneur, this may not be an option, but writing out how you will handle negative commentary is an essential policy you will want to have in place for those times when such a comment might occur.

4. Develop policies that account for all of social media, not just social networking sites. So many people get caught up in Facebook or Twitter, or other social networking sites that they forget that there are other forms of social media available. Social media strategy needs to account for video or social bookmarking (to name just a couple of other social technologies), and their policies need to focus on how these technologies will be implemented, as well as how often they will be used.

5. Most importantly revisit your strategy and policies every so often to account for how social media technology has changed. As you determine what activities work or don't work, updating your policies will help you not only keep them fresh in your mind, but also be useful for training new employees who may end up managing the social media for your business. By updating your policies consistently, you'll stay on top of changing social media trends and have consistent implementation of your strategy to achieve the goals you've decided on.

Social media strategy is important, but without policy there is no implementation. Documenting the details of how you use social media will make your strategy work and help you achieve ROI for your social media efforts.

Learn more about the author, Taylor Ellwood.

Comment on this article

  • Entrepreneur, Writer, Publisher, Public Speaker 
Burleson, Texas 
Dave Hayden
    Posted by Dave Hayden, Burleson, Texas | Mar 10, 2010

    Very good and too the point. One thing worth stressing too is that often the "solopreneur" grows into a larger enterprise or needs to hire some help at some time.

    Having policies in place before a new person is brought into the organization can save a lot of miscommunication later.

  • Digital Marketing 
London, Greater London United Kingdom 
Aaron Savage
    Posted by Aaron Savage, London, Greater London United Kingdom | Mar 10, 2010

    Excellent article on an area that you are spot on is often overlooked and particularly in large organisations which is where it has the most relevance.

  • Online Presence and Social Media Strategiest 
Butler, New Jersey 
Michael Cohn
    Posted by Michael Cohn, Butler, New Jersey | Mar 10, 2010

    Taylor, Excellent article. I couldn't say it any better.

  • Holistic Business Coach 
Portland, Oregon 
Taylor Ellwood
    Posted by Taylor Ellwood, Portland, Oregon | Mar 11, 2010

    Hi Dave,

    Good point. It's true that ideally a solopreneur will need to hire help, so having those policies in place can really make a difference.

    Hi Aaron,

    Thanks for commenting. I agree that it's an area that's all too often overlooked to the detriment of the success of the business.

    Hi Michael,

    Thank you! I really appreciate that compliment.


  • Professional SEO specialist 
San Francisco, California 
Gabriella Sannino
    Posted by Gabriella Sannino, San Francisco, California | Mar 11, 2010

    Hello Taylor, well said. I would love to add some great tools your readers can use (most are free) in order to gauge their results. Companies need to act on hard data not guess work and with social media still in it's infancy no one knows what works.

    Granted I am an SEO geek therefore I have gathered tools that can help both. This article I posted has great tools. Enjoy

    Organic SEO and Tracking Your Social Networks


    Warm Regards, Gabriella

  • Graphic Designer 
Trophy Club, Texas 
Tad Dobbs
    Posted by Tad Dobbs, Trophy Club, Texas | Mar 11, 2010

    Taylor, Thanks for posting this informative article. You make excellent points that all business need to consider. I agree completely with #1 especially as it pertains to a company's brand message and promise. Too often, it seems that companies are hesitant to use social media as a branding opportunity. Defining the strategy in specific terms can easily eliminate the fears associated with that level of personal connection while allowing brands to connect with their target audience.

  • Holistic Business Coach 
Portland, Oregon 
Taylor Ellwood
    Posted by Taylor Ellwood, Portland, Oregon | Mar 11, 2010

    Hi Gabriella,

    Thanks for sharing that link for other readers.

    Hi Tad,

    I find it does eliminate those fears and it also ends up addressing the ROI issue quite nicely because the company can start to measure results against the policies they've developed.

    Taylor Ellwood

  • Time Liberation Agent 
Clackamas, Oregon 
Susan Lannis
    Posted by Susan Lannis, Clackamas, Oregon | Mar 11, 2010

    Great article as always Taylor. You and I both know how process and planning make for smooth, time efficient operation!