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A social media policy clearly spells out what is and is not acceptable for the nonprofit organization's social media activities. Discover more in this recent blog post: https://blog.techsoup.org/posts/what-is-your-nonprofits-policy-on-social-media
Any tips for a nonprofit policy on social media? Let us know!
TechSoup Community Manager
All my nonprofit positions have been in arenas with extreme consideration for privacy -- healthcare, behavioral health, organ and tissue donation, foster care and child services. So our policies were highly restrictive! I think the number one thing I learned over the years is that regularly recurring requirements for training and having employees sign the agreement for the policy cannot be optional. The most success is achieved when employees are trained, tested, and then periodically reminded across multiple avenues if needed -- depending on the size of the organization, of course.
For a large organization, formalized training/testing/agreement should be done at least annually. Reminders should be done regularly throughout the year using email, company portal, mentions at staff meetings, etc. One org I worked for sent out monthly optional quizzes that had prizes attached for the participants. They would detail a scenario in which an employee had to decide how and when to apply the policy -- e.g., Sally's favorite patient wanted to take a picture together to post on their own social media page. Should Sally also post on her page? -- and sending in an answer would get you entered in a drawing for a gift card to a local restaurant or spa. The winner would be announced at the next all-staff meeting. It was a great way to keep everyone engaged and reminded about the policy!
Would TechSoup be willing to share its social media policy as an example?
For most small nonprofits, IMO, the biggest risk in social media use regarding the organization's official social media channels seems to be someone
Those bullet points are pretty easy to address in a social media policy.
It gets dicier regarding staff member's individual accounts. When are they posting to their own Facebook or Twitter accounts as a staff member, and when are they posting as an independent person with their own opinions? And it can be hard to develop a policy that covers that that doesn't come off as sounding Draconian and over-stepping boundaries.
Employees, consultants and volunteers being fired, or having their contracts not renewed, because of posts those people made to social media that disparaged certain groups or advocated violence, even via own, personal, not public social media accounts, is something I've been paying attention to since 2011, via this thread on the TechSoup forum.
For a recent workshop I did regarding social media risk management for nonprofits in a small community back in Kentucky, I researched people being fired for social media posts on their own, personal social media accounts and found that, often, those accounts were NOT public. Here's a sampling:
I had a four-pronged approach to suggest to my workshop audience about risk management in using social media, noting that a nonprofit, NGO, charity, etc. should want to :
I think the most important social media strategy for a nonprofit, charity, government program, etc. in covering personal social media use is establishing and reinforcing an agency's culture regarding being a welcoming place, onsite and online, for all people, regardless of their age, race, gender identification, citizenship or residency status, disabilities, religion (or lack there of) or sexual preference. For instance, I think organizations need to say, bluntly, in writing, in interviews, in new employee and new volunteer orientations, etc., that you are an organization that recognizes deep-ceded historic inequities and systematic racism in society, including the local community, and that your program is committed to evaluating its activities through the lens of equity and social justice and inclusion - I think that kind of reinforcement is going to better screen out people who are going to use social media in a way that brings an organization into disrepute, because such people are going to decide not to be a part of the organization.
-=-=-=-=-=- Jayne Cravens Author, The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
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