Social Media Policies: Lesson Learned

By: Jenna Ritter /@jenrit3/ LinkedIn Profile

Doing social media for an alcohol company poses risks that you don’t have with other organizations. This summer I interned for a winery where I created and managed different social media platforms, as well as poured in the tasting room. I loved my job and sometimes got a little carried away online.

 The mistake I made: Not implementing a social media policy.

It was a slow day in the tasting room. Ipad in hand, I decided to do a give-a-away. The first person to mention this post would receive a FREE bottle. I was hesitant to hit enter. As Kelli would say, “When it gives you pause…pause”. I pushed enter anyway. Five minutes later, I got a phone call from my boss telling me to delete the post. Apparently giving away alcohol is illegal.  I knew I couldn’t delete it without explanation. This is where I wish I would have had a policy to reference. I wrote a post saying, I could not give away a free bottle, but one for 50% off. How would you have handled my situation?

To help the groundswell support itself it is extremely important for your company to adapt a social media policy. A social media policy is there to help guide your employees through using social media, especially during ethical situations. The first step in developing this policy is to ask:

 What kind of organization do we want to be? Start at looking at examples of companies that you think do a great job of managing their social media. For example, Yellow Tail does a great job of responding to their customers. Common concerns when using social media for your business is the time commitment you have to put into it, the loss of control and information overload. A social media policy can help address these issues. Thanks to Kelli, we have some best practices for your social media policy. It should be:

Built on trust, practical, designed to educate, without absolutes, in plain language, friendly, consistent, prepared for mistakes, clear about due process and it should include more Do’s than Don’ts. You always need to be responsible for what you write and a good social media manager should be thoughtful while also thinking strategically. On top of these guidelines, when working for an alcohol company you need to think about certain legal issues that could arise and address them in your policy.

17 thoughts on “Social Media Policies: Lesson Learned

  1. Your inclusion of a personal story shows how easy it is to make a mistake and that is exactly why a solid social media policy is so vital to handle missteps. Thank you for bringing up that as a company you have to be responsible about promoting your product and service while still respecting the law. Where did you find the graphic? Too perfect!

  2. Thanks for including your story! I think many companies forget about the possible harmful affects of social media. Social media has many advantages, but also comes with risks. With my personal experience, I’ve worked with organizations that somewhere fall in between. They either entirely prohibit social media, or have no policies whatsoever. Without formal, written policies, you don’t know what is/isn’t acceptable. And that’s dangerous and risky environment.

  3. What a great example that points to a need for a social media policy – you made your point! It also speaks to the concern of management and how to use social media well to engage your customers. If the company had a social media plan, they would have thought through some examples of what they could and could not do. Enjoyed the links as well.

  4. Thanks for putting in your story! We all make mistakes and it’s good to learn and see how others handled situations. I agree that creating a social media policy is a must before letting your employees take over the company’s social media. It changes company to company and it’s important to know what you can/can’t post for each situation.

  5. Thanks for such a great example! The importance of a social media policy is so important for every company to have and in every situation. For example just recently the McDonald’s twitter hashtag #McDStories went terribly wrong and they pulled the promoted hashtag within two hours, significantly reducing the damage. In this specific case I feel as if they should have realized the potential backfire this hashtag could have.
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/story/2012-01-28/cnbc-mcdonalds-twitter-backfire/52824472/1

  6. A personal story always enhances the overall meaning of an example as it shows how easy it is for any of us to be in a situation such as yours. Too often we think instances that we hear can never happen to us; however, the more we realize that they happen to our peers, the better we can be prepared if we’re ever in a situation similar to yours.

  7. Selling wine isn’t that hard to do, considering how much many people enjoy a full glass of it, or two or three. But considering how may wineries exist out there and the vast consumer controlled Internet sales place, companies really need to work hard to get their product out there and build a relationship with their costumers.

    Having a well planned social media policy would certainly help when dealing with conversations about your product. As we have discussed in class, how we respond to situations in social media have a great impact on how our company is received by the public. Interesting story.

  8. Excellent personal story highlighting risk. While in 2012 I believe social media is the single biggest opportunity for businesses, it is also a high wire act. If you know what you are doing and have a plan you can navigate the mine field and end up in a much better place….just watch your step.

  9. This is a great example for a case study, very glad you posted on this topic!

    I definitely agree that its beneficial to look at other companies’ social media policies that are similar and pertain to your own company’s goals. Yellow Tail is great at connecting to their customers; they began building a relationships with me on twitter and now I am more inclined to purchase their product.

    This is also another example of the importance of understanding all levels of your company, including legal circumstances. By including a social media policy, companies can avoid future mishaps.

    Thanks for sharing Jenna!

  10. Great post, Jenna! I agree, companies need a social media policy to handle in situations like this. It is always helpful to reference others social media policies to create your own. In J452, Kelli had us make our own blogs with a code of ethics. She also advised us to look at others code of ethics to help cut and paste your own.

    Knowing the legal circumstances in give- a-ways, especially pertaining to alcohol, is tricky, time consuming and very important. This post reminds us to do our research before making it public.

    Once again, awesome post!

  11. I’m glad you gained some insight from your internship before this class and that this class helped give you more structure to your insights. I think it is important to have a social media policy for any job we take on in the future so we can be as successful as possible. Your wine example nicely compliments this lesson!

  12. Your personal story was a perfect example of how easy it is to make a mistake in social media, even though our generation is considered to be the “pros” amongst other generations since we’ve grown up with it. I think you handled the situation perfectly by recognizing that when representing a company you can’t just delete a post and hope no one has seen it.
    I also don’t think it was entirely your fault either, the company you worked for should have had a social media policy that you were briefed on during your first day, especially since you were in charge of their social media. Perfect example as to why companies need social media policies.

  13. I liked the personal story that was linked with your post. I don’t think people understand how easy it is to mess up something like social media. A lot of people make social media mistakes without even knowing it, and then correcting those mistakes becomes the bigger problem.

    I actually just thought the other day about social media policies regarding alcohol companies, and what about the companies that are abroad, who have different drinking ages or different views about alcohol in general. How do they handle their social media? Do they have social media policies and do they differ for countries that their product is shipped to?

    I use to think social media policies were unnecessary but now I understand their importance.

  14. I’m glad you included your anecdote about your experience with social media. Great to hear about the lesson you learned. It’s surprising that not many companies and organizations have social media policies. It’s even more surprising how many organizations and companies do have social media policies but get in loads of trouble.

    i think one of the most important lessons (and something that can go back to your story) is: if you are unsure about something, ask someone. Some situations are more difficult than others so don’t be afraid to get second opinions.

  15. Your personal story really puts how easy it is to make a mistake into perspective. I think not deleting the post and explaining the situation was the best option…plus 50% off of wine is a great deal! I’m sure we will all make mistakes at some point and this is a great case study to keep in mind.

  16. I really liked how you connected a personal story with what we have been learning in class. I myself have been in that position of wanting to take something back after I have hit enter. My situation was less important because it was not on behalf of a company but never the less taught me a lesson. I am currently interviewing for a position with Columbia Distributing (beer distributor) in Portland and this experience has given me good advice if I am selected for the position. I appreciate you sharing your story because I feel that I have learned from it and and will keep it in mind in my professional career.

  17. The personal story makes the necessity of a social media policy undeniable. With great opportunities comes great risk, social media opens so many doors for companies. Now it is all about understanding how to use it in a way that benefits all parties involved.

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